World Series ring
The World Series ring is an award in Major League Baseball given to the winners of the World Series, which determines the champion of the MLB season. Since only one Commissioner's Trophy is awarded to the team, the World Series ring offers a collectible memento for the actual players and team members to keep for themselves to symbolize the victory. The World Series ring is presented to the winning team early in the next season. The rings have been made by companies that include Jostens, Tiffany & Co., Dieges & Clust, and the L.G. Balfour Company.
The first World Series ring was given to members of the New York Giants after winning the 1922 World Series. By the 1930s, each winning team gave their players a ring. Though the ring started off simple, usually containing only one diamond, rings over time have become more ornate, with the 2003 World Series ring containing over 200 diamonds.
In addition to their inherent value, World Series rings also carry additional value as sports memorabilia. A World Series ring belonging to Casey Stengel sold for $180,000. Lenny Dykstra's 1986 World Series ring sold for over $56,000 during his bankruptcy proceedings. Other rings sold in auctions have sold for over $10,000 apiece. Replica rings given to fans have sold for as much as $300.
Prior to the 1922 World Series, players on the World Series-winning team were given keepsakes, such as a pin or pocketwatch fob. The first World Series ring was given to the members of the New York Giants following their victory in the 1922 World Series over the New York Yankees. When the Yankees won the 1923 World Series, players were given a commemorative pocketwatch. The Yankees first gave rings to their players following the 1927 World Series. Rings became an annual tradition in the 1930s, as every World Series-winning team has given rings to its players since 1932. In past years, players often requested other items in place of rings, including cufflinks and tie clips. Frankie Crosetti and Tommy Henrich requested shotguns from the Yankees following World Series championships. Grover Cleveland Alexander reportedly pawned his 1926 World Series ring.
Members of the 1973 World Series champion Oakland Athletics were upset when team owner Charlie O. Finley, following salary disputes with his players, presented his team with rings that were identical to the ones received after winning the 1972 World Series, except without the one-carat diamond. Reggie Jackson referred to them as "trash rings". The first ring to contain more than one diamond was the 1977 World Series ring commissioned by the Yankees, which had over a dozen diamonds. Whereas older rings were 10 carat and between 20 and 25 pennyweight, modern rings are typically 14 carat and 50 pennyweight. The 2004 World Series rings commissioned by the Boston Red Sox were 18 carat white gold, with a ruby "B" surrounded by diamonds. Players' names are often inscribed in the ring. The St. Louis Cardinals had the Rally Squirrel engraved into their 2011 World Series championship rings. Companies that have been commissioned to create World Series rings include Jostens, Tiffany & Co., Dieges & Clust, and the L.G. Balfour Company.
In modern years, the importance of World Series rings to players has increased. Players receive their rings in pregame ceremonies early in the next season. Alex Rodriguez said his 2009 World Series ring "means the world" to him, and that he would wear it daily. Sergio Romo of the 2010 World Series champion San Francisco Giants said of his ring: "In all reality, this is why we play right here." The rings commissioned by the Florida Marlins after the 2003 World Series are believed to be the most expensive World Series rings ever made; made of 14-carat white gold, the 3.5-ounce (99 g) ring featured 229 diamonds, including one teal diamond, and 13 rubies. The rings cost $20,000 apiece due to the quantity of the purchase, though they retailed at $40,000 each. Many players prefer to display their rings as trophies as opposed to wearing them.
Non-players affiliated with the team, including front office executives, coaches, and locker room staff, also receive rings. After the 2004 World Series, the Red Sox ordered over 500 rings. Players no longer affiliated with the winning team also receive rings. Arthur Rhodes, Bengie Molina, and Lonnie Smith played in the World Series against a team they played for earlier in the season, guaranteeing them World Series rings regardless of the series outcome. Yogi Berra has won the most World Series rings with 15, combining his time as a player and as a coach. He often asked for a pendant to be made for his wife instead; he later had the other rings recast to display in the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center.
World Series rings are considered valuable sports memorabilia. In 2007, Casey Stengel's 1951 World Series ring sold for $180,000. When Lenny Dykstra went through bankruptcy in 2009, his 1986 World Series ring sold for $56,762.50 through Heritage Auctions, three times as much as was expected.. Others have sold their rings on eBay. Doug Baker of the 1984 World Series champion Detroit Tigers had a new ring made after his original was stolen, and when he recovered the original ring, he sold it for $12,322. Cucho Rodriguez, a scout for the Red Sox, sold his 2004 World Series ring for over $19,000 and in 2011, Scott Williamson auctioned off his 2004 ring for $89,000. However, the ring that once belonged to disgraced pitcher Brandon Puffer, when offered for sale on the August 15, 2013 episode of Pawn Stars could not be sold. The shop declined to make an offer. They claimed Puffer's off-field problems destroyed the resale value of the ring.
Replica rings given out to fans at the game where players receive their rings have also been sold on eBay, with one replica 2005 World Series ring given out by the Chicago White Sox returning approximately $300.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum contains an exhibit on World Series rings. The New York Yankees Museum, located in Yankee Stadium, has an exhibit with replicas of all Yankees' World Series rings, including the pocket watch given after the 1923 World Series.
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