Cubs’ Healing Gesture Helps Create Goodwill With Fans

goodwill, Naperville business law attorneyIn case you have been living off the grid for the last year or so, the long-suffering Chicago Cubs won the World Series last fall. The win marked the first time in 108 years that the club sat atop the baseball world—the longest championship drought of any team in American professional sports. A few months ago, a post on this blog talked about the championship rings that were given to team personnel and the buyback clauses that went along with them. It turns out that there is another Cubs ring story that is worth mentioning, and this is one is rather heartwarming.

As a business law attorney, I understand the importance of a company or brand generating and maintaining goodwill among its customer base and the general public. Sometimes, even the smallest gestures can have long-term positive effects for the business, including a boost in profitability.

More Than Decade in the Making

This particular story begins in October 2003 as the Cubs were poised to win the National League Championship Series and go on to the World Series that year. It was the eighth inning of Game 6, the Cubs were winning 3-0 against the Florida Marlins, and a foul ball was heading for the seats down the left field line. The nearest Cubs player, Moises Alou, reached into the stands and it looked like he was going to catch the ball. A number of fans, however, reached as well, and one of them—a young man named Steve Bartman—deflected the ball away from Alou. The rest, as they say, is history.

With new life, the Marlins went on to score eight runs that inning, winning the game and the next one, and moving on to the World Series. Bartman, in the meantime, was absolutely vilified in Chicago and across the country as the man who cost the Cubs their shot. More rational fans realized that the Cubs still had the chance to win that game and Game 7 and that Bartman could not really be blamed for the team’s performance on the field. But, it did not really matter; the damage had been done.

Much-Needed Closure

For the next 14 years, Steve Bartman kept a very low profile. He turned down book deals and appearance offers, and he continued to receive threats from angry Cubs supporters. This week, the team decided to put the matter to rest. Team owner Tom Ricketts invited Bartman to his office and presented the beleaguered fan with a 2016 Cubs championship ring. In fact, the ring was personalized for Bartman, with his name engraved above a jeweled depiction of the famous W flag that flies over Wrigley Field after a Cubs’ win.

Ricketts acknowledged the “public burden that [Bartman] has endured for more than a decade” and said he hoped “this provides closure on an unfortunate chapter of the story.” Bartman issued a statement—his first public statement in years—thanking the Ricketts and the Cubs, and expressing the hope that Cubs’ gesture can help sports fans “prevent harsh scapegoating” and exploitation of others for personal gain.

The Importance of Kindness

While skeptics might argue that this was an easy public relations stunt for an organization currently valued at more than $2.6 billion, the fact of the matter is that the Cubs were under no obligation to reach out to Bartman. Whatever happens on the field for the remainder of this season, the gesture will resonate well with fans of the team and others throughout the sports world.

If you are looking for ways to increase your company’s standing in the community, an experienced business law attorney in Naperville can help. Call 630-756-1160 for a confidential consultation at The Gierach Law Firm today.




Sports Illustrated