Ethics Hero: The Chicago Cubs Organization

This was a wonderful gesture of kindness and reconciliation. It won’t mean much to those who don’t follow baseball, and that is Reason #478,653,222 why it’s a mistake not to follow baseball.

I’ve written about the Steve Bartman fiasco several times, both here and on the currently off-line Ethics Scoreboard.  I am not in the “Steve Bartman was an innocent victim of circumstance” camp, though he was a victim of moral luck. He was an  incompetent baseball fan, not paying sufficient attention to the game and interfering with it as a direct result. On the other hand, for members of the 2003 Cubs to use him as a scapegoat for their blowing a lead,  the game, and the play-offs, and for Chicago fans to hound him out of town and into hiding, was far worse than his negligence, the most disproportionate and vindictive treatment of a fan in sports history.

Here was my summary of the saga to date before the Cubs finally won the World Series after more than a century of failure:

Bartman, for those of you who have lived in a bank vault since 2003, was the hapless young Chicago Cubs fan who unintentionally interfered with a foul ball that might have been catchable by Cubs outfielder Moises Alou in the decisive game of 2003 National League Championship Series. In a perfect display of the dangers of moral luck, Bartman’s mistake—it didn’t help that he was wearing earphones and watching the ball rather than the action on the field—began a chain of random events  that constituted a complete collapse by Chicago in that very same half-inning, sending the Miami Marlins and not the Cubs, who had seemed comfortably ahead, to the Series. Bartman, who issued a sincere and pitiful apology, was widely vilified and literally run out of town. He then became part of Cubs and baseball lore, one more chapter in the sad saga has been called “the Billy Goat Curse,” the uncanny inability of this team to win it all.

Yesterday the Cubs announced that the team had privately awarded Bartman  an official Chicago Cubs 2016 World Series Championship ring as a special gift from the the Cubs organization. These things contain 214 diamonds at 5.5 karats, three karats of genuine red rubies and 2.5 karats of genuine sapphires, and are worth about $70,000. Even so,  the symbolism is worth far more.

Tom Ricketts, the Cubs owner, issued a statement:

“On behalf of the entire Chicago Cubs organization, we are honored to present a 2016 World Series Championship Ring to Mr. Steve Bartman. 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.”

Bartman’s statement is long but heartfelt, and after the man and his family have been living as pariahs and virtual fugitives, the least we can do is read his sentiments in response to one of the most spectacular organizational apologies ever:

“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.”

 

11 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Etiquette and manners, History, Sports

11 responses to “Ethics Hero: The Chicago Cubs Organization

  1. Nice and uplifting post, Jack

    This guy was badly mistreated, and it is good to see a recognition of that fact by the team.

  2. Other Bill

    Is Billy Buck getting one?

  3. JP

    Not a baseball fan, but well aware of this story. I’m glad to see that the Cubs are a team that cares more about their fans than the bottom line. I know they will get some blowback for doing this, but I think it is the right thing to do.

  4. VERY classy move; unexpected, unsolicited, and as close to pure altruism as you’ll get in the jaded world of professional sports!

    Nearly 4 decades ago (September 1977) the U.S.A. gave the Canal back to Panama, 241 months ago today the Union Jack was furled for the last time as the Brits relinquished Hong Kong to China.

    Two years ago TitleTown’s 13 Time World Champion Green Bay Packers not only forgave Prodigal Son Brett Favre, but welcomed him back with open arms AND retired his # 4.

    Other as yet unfinished business? Will MA & Boston generally, and BoSox fans specifically, ever forgive Harry Frazee for letting The Bambino slip away to the Evil Empire?

  5. I wondered immediately if the Cubs gave a similar ring to Moises Alou.

  6. luckyesteeyoreman

    That statement of Bartman’s is wonderfully eloquent gratitude, by the way.

  7. carcarwhite

    Wow!!

    What an uplifting story!! I LOVE it!!!

    Shows it’s never too late to make amends!

    I am one of the people who NEVER heard of this! 🙂 so i guess you can let me have it. AND I did share it with a sports fan who liked it! 🙂 (he had heard of the story, not the ring)

    Haven’t been commenting as much lately, still reading!

    Thank you again for all you contribute to our world. Gives me hope so often.

    Take care.

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