Chicago Cubs fans forgave Steve Bartman when the franchise finally won the World Series last season, and the franchise is now treating him like one of their own.

The Cubs announced on Monday in a statement to WGN that the Ricketts family has gifted Bartman with an official World Series Championship ring to recognize the sacrifices he has made and bring closure to “an unfortunate chapter.” In response, Bartman said he does “not consider myself worthy of such an honor” but he is “deeply moved and sincerely grateful to receive an official Chicago Cubs 2016 World Series Championship ring.”

“I am fully aware of the historical significance and appreciate the symbolism the ring represents on multiple levels,” Bartman continued. “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.”

Many Cubs fans believed Bartman added to the “Curse of the Billy Goat” in 2003 when he intercepted a foul ball in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series from the stands. Had Bartman not reached out for the ball, Cubs outfielder Moises Alou had an opportunity to catch it and put the Cubs one step closer to punching their ticket to the World Series. The Florida Marlins scored eight straight runs following the incident and eventually won the game 8-3. They then closed out the series the next night and went on to beat the New York Yankees in the World Series to win their second title.

Bartman became a punching bag for Cubs fans and has lived a private life since. He did not attend the championship parade last year, but said he was “overjoyed that the Cubs won.”

“Words alone cannot express my heartfelt thanks to the Ricketts family, Crane Kenney, Theo Epstein, and the entire Cubs organization for this extraordinary gift, and for providing the City of Chicago and Cubs fans everywhere an unforgettable World Championship in 2016,” Bartman said. “I am happy to be reunited with the Cubs family and positively moving forward with my life.”

Steve Bartman Full Statement

“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,” he 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.

“I humbly receive the ring not only as a symbol of one of the most historic achievements in sports, but as an important reminder for how we should treat each other in today’s society. My hope is that we all can learn from my experience to view sports as entertainment and prevent harsh scapegoating, and to challenge the media and opportunistic profiteers to conduct business ethically by respecting personal privacy rights and not exploit any individual to advance their own self-interest or economic gain.

“Moreover, I am hopeful this ring gesture will be the start of an important healing and reconciliation process for all involved. To that end, I request the media please respect my privacy, and the privacy of my family. I will not participate in interviews or further public statements at this time.

“Words alone cannot express my heartfelt thanks to the Ricketts family, Crane Kenney, Theo Epstein, and the entire Cubs organization for this extraordinary gift, and for providing the City of Chicago and Cubs fans everywhere an unforgettable World Championship in 2016. I am happy to be reunited with the Cubs family and positively moving forward with my life.”

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