26 Rings and a Pocket Watch (Day I of VI)
The New York Yankees have won the most World Series (27) in MLB history. Though, while the presentation of a ring is common in todays sporting world, the Yankees have only awarded 26 rings to their players.
This week we go year-by-year and showcase each team and what the players were rewarded for each World Series win.
Today we begin with the history of World Series rings and the first two Yankees World Series keepsakes.
The History of the World Series Ring:
The first team to issue a World Series ring to their players were the New York Giants after they beat the New York Yankees in 1922. However, the tradition did not immediately catch on as the World Series winning teams between 1923 and 1925 did not award rings, instead opting for a pocket watch, a watch fob, and a necklace respectively. Now, the idea of awarding a keepsake in 1922 was not an original idea by the New York Giants. Instead it can be traced all the way back to the 1879 Providence Grays who issued a pin for their winning the National League.
The second team to issue a ring came with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1926, after which every World Series winner has given their players a ring. However, not all players have requested a ring after winning the World Series. Some requests players have made were for watches/pocket watches, cufflinks, tie clips, necklaces, and more. Most interestingly, two former Yankees- Frankie Crosetti (who was a member of 17 World Series winning teams as a player or coach) and Tommy Henrich (who won 5 World Series of his own)- at least once asked for, and were given, an embroidered shotgun in lieu of a ring.
A few interesting notes on World Series rings:
Four different companies have designed a World Series ring: Tiffany & Co., Jostens, L.G. Balfour Company, and Dieges & Clust. Some, even have to create multiple designs each year as franchises continue to increase the number of rings produced after each championship. As of note, the Kansas City Royals produced over 700 rings after their 2015 World Series win.
The full-time players, coaches, and executives often receive what’s called an “A” ring, which are the ones created with the most expensive materials. “B” and “C” rings often resemble the main design, but are created with cheaper materials and provided to fill-in players and lower level employees of each team.
As of now, the most expensive ring to sell at auction was Babe Ruth’s 1927 World Series ring, which sold for $2,093,927 in 2017. The most expensive World Series non-ring keepsake was also owned by Babe Ruth, this being his 1923 pocket watch which last sold for a whopping $717,000 in 2014.
1923 World Series
Though the New York Giants awarded a ring to their 1922 World Series winning team the year before, the New York Yankees first World Series winning team were given pocket watches. Created by the watchmaking company the Gruen Watch Company. These pocket watches were produced as a VeriThin model, of which the model was first built in 1904. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s pocket watches were often very bulky and bothersome to fit in a vest pocket. Enter the Gruen VeriThin pocket watch, which was the accomplishment of a goal by Dietrich Gruen: reduce the bulkiness of pocket watches without losing the precision and accuracy. His new arrangement of the mechanisms for pocket watch parts helped make them much thinner, which also brought a prestige and elegance to the Gruen VeriThin line of pocket watches. (Thanks to pocketwatchrepair.com for this information.)
For the Yankees 1923 Championship pocket watch we know that there were 39 made that were provided to players and executives. Each of these pocket watches was given a code with “46XXX” on the back of each casing underneath the serial number, of which this code was only ever used for this run of watches. (This may or may not have been by Gruen or a member of the Yankees organization.)
1927 World Series
The 1927 “Murderer’s Row” Yankees may have been the greatest baseball team ever assembled, playing to a 110-44-1 record over the regular season- they tied the Philadelphia Athletics 9-9 in the 3rd game- before sweeping the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series. Combined with the dominance of that team, there was another important note that year had: it was the first ring that the Yankees players actually won.
Made by Dieges & Clust, this ring was cast in a soft fourteen-karat gold. On the face of the ring was a single genuine diamond at the center of an eight-pointed star with words outlining the edge of the face stating “New York Yankees” donning the top and “World Champions” on the bottom. The ring also comes along with a very fine detailing on each shank, showing a baseball over an eagle with the words “New York” above nearer to the face and the year “1927” below near the band. While not pictured above, the inside of each ring was also engraved with an inscription of the person who was gifted the ring and the marking “D.&C.14K” for the maker and gold content.
It is not known how many rings were made for the 1927 Championship team, though with 25 players, 1 manager, and 2 coaches on the roster (one less than the 1923 team) it is likely that between 35-50 rings were produced.
Check back tomorrow for highlights of the Yankees championship rings (and more) from: 1928, 1932, 1936, 1937, and 1938!