After more than a decade in exile facing scorn from fans who believe he cost the Chicago Cubs a World Series, Steve Bartman will receive a championship ring from the club.
The Cubs announced Monday they will give Bartman a 2016 championship ring as a gift from the franchise and the Ricketts family.
"On behalf of the entire Chicago Cubs organization, we are honored to present a 2016 World Series Championship Ring to Mr. Steve Bartman," the Cubs said in a statement. "We hope this provides closure on an unfortunate chapter of the story that has perpetuated throughout our quest to win a long-awaited World Series.
"While no gesture can fully lift the public burden he has endured for more than a decade, we felt it was important Steve knows he has been and continues to be fully embraced by this organization. After all he has sacrificed, we are proud to recognize Steve Bartman with this gift today."
Darren Rovell of ESPN shared an image of Bartman's ring:
Darren Rovell @darrenrovell
Steve Bartman's World Series Cubs ring https://t.co/HhCFS4hLnD2017-7-31 17:31:17
Bartman gained infamy in October 2003 during Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, which the Cubs led 3-2. The longtime Cubs fan unwittingly interfered with outfielder Moises Alou's attempt to catch a foul ball in the eighth inning as Chicago held a 3-0 lead in the game. The Cubs would surrender that lead and later lose the series, and Bartman became nearly the sole source of blame for angered fans.
Bartman dropped off the social map in the following years, as virtually every attempt to contact him or his family was unsuccessful. ESPN's 30 for 30 series documented the aftermath of the incident in Catching Hell, which also drew parallels to Bill Buckner's error in the 1986 World Series.
Bartman, like Buckner, became a sympathetic figure to many inside and out of Chicago—especially once the Cubs ended the so-called "curse" by winning the 2016 World Series.
"Although I do not consider myself worthy of such an honor, I am deeply moved and sincerely grateful to receive an official Chicago Cubs 2016 World Series Championship ring," Bartman said in a statement. "I am fully aware of the historical significance and appreciate the symbolism the ring represents on multiple levels. My family and I will cherish it for generations.
"Most meaningful is the genuine outreach from the Ricketts family, on behalf of the Cubs organization and fans, signifying to me that I am welcomed back into the Cubs family and have their support going forward. I am relieved and hopeful that the saga of the 2003 foul ball incident surrounding my family and me is finally over."
Bartman said he hopes the gesture "will be the start of an important healing and reconciliation process for all involved." He added he will not be giving any further statements on the matter or conducting interviews.