CHICAGO -- Long before weeping fans scribbled tributes to loved ones on the walls of Wrigley Field, before generations hugged in the streets and gleefully doused the floors of the North Side's packed taverns, Aroldis Chapman said he felt the weight of those 108 years without a World Series.
Though his time in their uniform ultimately proved to be brief, the Cubs celebrated Chapman's contributions by presenting the flame-throwing left-hander with his World Series ring in an on-field ceremony, and then watched him lock down the save in the Yankees' 3-2 victory on Friday at Wrigley Field.
"I always understood that coming here and winning a championship was going to mean so much, not only to the organization, but to the fans and the people of Chicago," Chapman said through an interpreter. "I always knew it that I had an opportunity to help in what was going to be something amazing."
With Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts and executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer looking on, manager Joe Maddon handed Chapman his diamond-encrusted bauble. Chapman hugged Maddon, whom he had criticized for his heavy postseason workload, then exchanged embraces with Cubs players in front of the third-base dugout.
"Not to denigrate anybody who was here, but he was one of the most important things we had last year," Maddon said. "What he did in the World Series and playoffs was difficult to recreate. I've said it before, we could not have done it without him."
"I'm sure he was excited," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. 'If you throw 100 [mph], I would think you'd be excited every time you come in."
Chapman had 16 saves after the Cubs acquired him from the Yankees on July 25, then made 13 postseason appearances, including a career-high 2 2/3 innings to earn the save in World Series Game 5 with Chicago facing elimination. He got the win in Game 7 of the World Series after allowing Rajai Davis' game-tying homer.
Chapman said that he and Maddon spoke at the White House in December, where Maddon congratulated him on his new five-year, $86 million contract, and that they have reached common ground on what transpired last postseason.
"I always felt comfortable here," Chapman said. "During the World Series and the playoffs, that's the strategy they had. When you're fighting like that and trying to win a championship, you have to give everything you have. I gave everything that I had and I'm very happy that we came out champions."
Yankees reliever Adam Warren, who posted a 5.91 ERA in 29 games (one start) for Chicago before being traded back to New York in the Chapman deal, opted for a lower-key tribute. Epstein and Hoyer sought him out during batting practice, presenting Warren with his ring on the grass behind first base.
"It'll be a fun conversation piece to show off, but I don't know how much I'll wear it," Warren said. "Being a Yankee, wearing a Cubs ring would be kind of strange. I'm very honored to be included with that, and it's something I'll always be able to remember and show my kids."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.