Okay, hands up if you've ever brought your glove to a baseball game.
You folks, too?
Uh... whoa... we get the point, buddy...
And that point being... whether you bring a glove or not, most fans dream of the chance to catch a ball in a major league game and bring it home as a souvenir. What could possibly go wrong?
If you're Chicago Cubs fan Steve Bartman, the answer is: a lot. And that's why a recent gesture by the Cubs also means a lot. The team is giving Bartman his own World Series ring from their incredible 2016 championship victory. It's just like the ones the players receive!
But wait? What was this awful thing happened to him in the first place? It's kind of a crazy story.
A cursed team
So first things first. A short history of the Chicago Cubs.
Before winning last year's World Series over the Cleveland Indians, the Cubs had gone an exceptionally long time without winning a championship. How long? 108 years.
Known as loveable losers to the rest of the league, the Cubs played one bummer of a season after another after another. Their loyal fans generally took it in stride, laughing at the situation and discussing whether or not their team was cursed.
But deep down, like any group of fans, they really wanted their team to finally win. How could they not?
Wrong move, wrong time
Steve Bartman knew that feeling. He'd been a Cubs super fan all his life!
So when the 2003 Cubs were actually really, really good, and headed into the playoffs, he couldn't have been more excited. He scored a front row, left field ticket to Game 6 of the National League Championship series versus the Florida Marlins on October 14, 2003, at Chicago's legendary home park, Wrigley Field. Chicago was leading the series 3 wins to 2. One more win, and this endlessly unlucky team would be going to the World Series.
Then it happened.
In 8th inning, the Cubs were leading 3–0. There was one out already when a high fly ball was hit toward left field. The ball was heading foul, or out of play, but a player can still catch a foul ball to make an out. The Cubs speedy left fielder, Moises Alou raced for the ball and looked ready to make a spectacular catch that would've been the second out of the inning. But the ball never reached him.
Bartman reached for the ball, knocking it away from Alou. Alou was furious, but that was nothing compared to what happened next. The Cubs collapsed in the rest of the inning, giving up an unbelievable eight runs to Florida. They would lose the game 8–3, and then would also lose Game 7, 9–6. The dream was over for Cubs fans. Again.
But nothing was finished for Bartman.
An end to the curse
Steve Bartman sadly became a major target of fan frustration. Despite apologizing immediately, despite being far from the only fan to reach for the ball (and despite the fact that the Cubs, you know, basically gave Florida that game by playing terrible baseball for the final two innings), all fans wanted to do was blame Steve. Did he deserve it? No way. But all the same, Bartman kept a low profile and only followed his favourite team from the distance.
That's what makes this moment so heartwarming. Sure, the curse is over for the Cubs, and they once again have an excellent team. But to have the Cubs reach out and gift Bartman with an official ring, something only the players and staff of the winning team receive? Well, let Steve tell you how it makes him feel...
"Although I do not consider myself worthy of such an honour, I am deeply moved and sincerely grateful to receive an official Chicago Cubs 2016 World Series Championship ring," he 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."
What a classy person, no? Thanks, Chicago Cubs. And enjoy the postseason, Steve. You've earned the right!