Why the Cubs giving Bartman a World Series ring is "an important reminder for how we should treat each other"

Why the Cubs giving Bartman a World Series ring is "an important reminder for how we should treat each other"
Photo by Chicago Cubs.

As parents, we have a lot of hopes and dreams for our children. The one that may be most common is the desire to raise a child who grows up to be a fundamentally good person. One who is kind, considerate, and compassionate.

The news isn’t always full of stories of benevolence, forgiveness and appreciation. But today, one such story is making headlines and is a lesson in how we should treat each other.

Today, the Chicago Cubs announced that they were giving Steve Bartman a World Series ring.

That is significant because, in 2003, Bartman reached out for what he thought was a ball that was completely out of play during the Chicago Cubs playoff game agains the Florida Marlins. It was a ball that outfielder Moises Alou may have caught had it not been for Bartman’s actions. It was seen as a key reason the Cubs lost that game, and their bid to become World Series champs.

Negative attention and even death threats rained down on Bartman who was made a scapegoat. He had to go into hiding and left the country for a time. He has not spoken publicly in the 14 years since, even after the Cubs won the World Series last year.

Today, however, the Cubs reached out to Bartman with the ring.  “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 told WGN in a statement. Here’s the rest of the 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.”

Then, Bartman responded. Here’s his 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. 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.”

This is probably really silly, but this all makes me teary. Maybe it’s because the headlines and language used in public discourse have both been particularly harsh of late. More likely, though, is because it makes me think of John Arguello, a remarkable blogger here at ChicagoNow who founded Cubs Den and who was an even better person, who passed away this weekend. In the many, many online tributes to him, a common theme is his boundless generosity and kindness to others.

Those are two themes in each of the statements from the giving and receiving of the ring.

They are a reminder that we all belong to each other.

How we treat each other, in both good times and in bad, matters so very much. Reaching out to someone can be powerful. It doesn’t have to be a dramatic act to be a force for good.

Kindness is so important. It’s tough express to our kids just how incredibly valuable it is. But I have a feeling that they get an idea when they are on both the giving and receiving end of kindness from others, including us as their parents.

We will likely never have a World Series ring to give, but we all have the ability to make a positive impact.

The giving of the World Series ring and the way in which Bartman received it both illustrate the tremendous power of forgiveness and the ability to move forward.

As Bernard Meltzer says, “When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.”

Relationships and circumstances can change and things really do get better.

Teens and tweens may not always appreciate privacy, but Bartman’s past years of torment show that privacy is something incredibly valuable. We probably can’t fully appreciate it until it is gone, particularly when it’s taken away without consent or warning. Bartman has and obviously plans to continue to keep a low profile. It’s a lesson to our kids that it’s okay to fly under the radar, that you don’t have to respond to everyone all the time, that not everything has to be shared with the world.

As I’ve learned from John and this great story today, what can and should be shared, however, is goodness, kindness, forgiveness, positivity, appreciation, passion and love.

You May Also Like: Why all kids should see Anthony Rizzo apologize to MLB umpire

Prior Post: A day in the life of parenting teens, summed up in 15 GIFs that will make you laugh

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Why the Cubs giving Bartman a World Series ring is "an important reminder for how we should treat each other"

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