Baseball Rings: The Bling Wasn’t Always the Thing

By Michael Rod

1. It’s believed the first team-issued World Series rings were presented to the 1922 New York Giants. The ring contained a center diamond and was made of 14-karat white gold.
In 2011, Robert Edward Auctions offered a 1914 Boston Braves World Series ring. The 1914 ring might have been team-issued since two player’s rings are known to exist, however, there’s no proof these rings were team-issued. It’s possible the two players had their rings made on their own.

A 1922 World Series Champions ring. With at least four confirmed player rings in existence, this is probably the first team-issued World Series ring.

A 1922 World Series Champions ring. With at least four confirmed player rings in existence, this is probably the first team-issued World Series ring.

Recently, Leland’s auctioned a 1919 ring belonging to team manager Pat Moran. This ring, like the two from 1914, might have been a custom ring or made into a ring from an originally presented pendant.

Starting in 1926, every World Series-winning team has been awarded a ring.  Presenting players and coaches with rings became mandatory, legend has it, when an owner in the 1940s threatened to stiff his team.

2. In 1956, Yankee players were given a choice: They could have a 1956 World Series ring or they could choose other gifts instead. The vast majority choose rings. One player who already had received a ring from a previous World Series chose a Yankee engraved silver tea set for his wife. Another player, Frank Crosetti, who was part of 17 World Series winners as a player and coach, felt he had enough rings. He decided he’d prefer an engraved shotgun. Surprisingly, the organization accommodated his wish.

3. The team that loses the World Series also receives a ring. It’s referred to as a National or American League Champions Ring. Sometimes they are as large and impressive as the World Series rings.

4. Most World Series rings from the 1920s up until the early 1970s contained one center diamond.  The Yankees started the migration toward a “ring with bling” in 1976.
After a 12-year absence from the playoffs, the Bronx Bombers returned to the fall classic. Even though they were swept by the Reds, their American League Champion rings were made with diamonds in the shape of “NY.” The following year, they beat the Dodgers in six games, and their world champion rings and diamonds were even larger.

5. The largest World Series ring ever produced is the Marlins 2003 ring. Made of 14-karat gold, the ring weighs 115 grams (more than a quarter of a pound), contains 228 diamonds, 13 rubies and a rare teal diamond in the mascot’s eye.

Pictured: 1976 American League Champion and 1977 World Series Champions rings. This was the beginning of the championship ring “bling” evolution.

Pictured: 1976 American League Champion and 1977 World Series Champions rings. This was the beginning of the championship ring “bling” evolution.

6. In 1996, the Yankees won their first World Series in 18 years. Two years later, they won again. Owner George Steinbrenner issued plenty of rings to front office personal, scouts, operations staff, other employees and friends. At the time, eBay was becoming a household name, and a few of these rings wound up on the auction site.

Steinbrenner was so outraged that he scaled back ring production. The 1999 ring is much rarer, and the 2000 Champions ring is exceedingly scarce. Only players, select coaches and high-ranking executives received 2000 rings, and as a result, they can sell for two or more times the going rate of the team’s 1996 and 1998 rings.

7. Speaking of owners, Charley Finley presented a $3,800 ring topped with a full-karat diamond when his A’s won the 1972 World Series. He promised even bigger rings if the team repeated as champs. The A’s did repeat, twice more, but each subsequent ring was topped with a modest green sapphire stone. Players never forgave Finley for the 1973 and 1974 diamond-lacking rings. Finley’s side of the story was that he received only three thank-you notes for the 1972 rings, and he couldn’t see rewarding such ingratitude.

This photo was tweeted by Charlie Sheen. That’s Sheen’s fingers and his Babe Ruth 1927 Yankee ring.

This photo was tweeted by Charlie Sheen. That’s Sheen’s fingers and his Babe Ruth 1927 Yankee ring.

8. Hollywood actor and bad boy Charlie Sheen is a baseball memorabilia collector. He had owned a T206 Honus Wagner card, the 1986 World Series’ “Mookie Ball” and Bill Buckner’s glove from that game that whiffed on the ball.

Perhaps his most impressive treasure is Babe Ruth’s 1927 World Series ring.  Industry experts estimate the ring’s value would exceed a half a million dollars if it  came up in an auction.

In 1999, Sotheby’s sold what was believed to be Lou Gehrig’s 1927 ring for $96,000. The ring originated from the famous collection of Barry Halper.

9. Yogi Berra has more World Series rings than anyone. As a player, he was awarded 10 World Series Champion rings and four American League Championship rings (aka World Series losing rings).

Berra won at least seven more rings after retiring. As a coach and manager, he won three World Series rings with the Yankees and Mets and four League Championship rings. That brings him to 21 rings. As a Yankee legend and part of the Yankee family, he probably received five winning rings and possibly two American League rings from the Yankees since 1996. If he did receive these rings, that would bring his total to 28!

Many 1986 Mets World Series Rings suffer from a discoloring of the blue sapphire stone.

Many 1986 Mets World Series Rings suffer from a discoloring of the blue sapphire stone.

10. Balfour manufactured the New York Mets rings in 1986. Over time, most of the rings have had some kind of chemical reaction occur behind the blue sapphire stone. This reaction (possibly oxidation) has caused the stone to show a non-uniform color.

Want to see every winning and runner-up Super Bowl ring? Those and other championship rings from all sports can be viewed at www.sports-rings.com.

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