Seeking closure, Cubs give World Series ring to Steve B…

After months of parading the Commissioner’s Trophy around the country, making two White House trips and hanging out with celebrities, the Cubs finally made peace with one of the most mistreated figures during their historic World Series drought.

The team announced Monday that Steve Bartman, who has lived a private life since his infamous involvement in Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series, recently received a 2016 World Series ring.

The announcement came hours after the baseball department pulled off another major trade designed to strengthen the Cubs’ chances of another World Series title.

The gesture was long-awaited after Bartman was singled out for the Cubs’ collapse in the NLCS despite other mistakes that prevented them from reaching their first World Series since 1945.

“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 issued by the Cubs. “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.”

Bartman said he appreciated the Ricketts family reaching out to him and welcoming him “back into the Cubs family.”

“I am relieved and hopeful that the saga of the 2003 foul ball incident surrounding my family and me is finally over,” he said.

With Cubs five outs from advancing to the World Series, Bartman accidentally interfered with a foul ball left fielder Moises Alou attempted to catch. Alou snapped at Bartman, who left Wrigley Field shortly after receiving verbal threats and has remained out of the public eye.

In December, Alou endorsed the idea of the Cubs letting Bartman throw a ceremonial first pitch before a game, adding “it’s not the kid’s fault” the Cubs went on to lose Games 6 and 7.

Bartman said he hoped the ring gesture would signal the start of a healing and reconciliation process while he continues to seek privacy.

“I am happy to be reunited with the Cubs family and positively moving forward with my life,” he said.

The Cubs said in a statement they also hope the ring brings closure to the incident and alleviates the burden Bartman has absorbed.

“After all he has sacrificed, we are proud to recognize Steve Bartman with this gift,” the statement said.

Ryan Dempster, a pitcher on the 2003 Cubs, described the gesture as “closure at its finest.”

“To do something like that for Steve Bartman, who got ridiculed for something that any fan would have done, is pretty awesome,” Dempster said at Cubs manager Joe Maddon’s charity golf outing.

General manager Jed Hoyer said it’s impossible not to look at Bartman in a sympathetic way.

“I certainly hope all that animosity or any scrutiny he gets is gone because in some ways it shouldn’t have been that way in the first place,” Hoyer said. “It’s not a high point in Cubs history that this unsuspecting Cubs fan had his life altered by a foul ball.”

Chicago Tribune’s Teddy Greenstein contributed.

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