26 Rings and a Pocket Watch (Day II 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.
1928 World Series
The 1928 World Series ring is a near replica of the 1927 World Series ring that the Yankees gave out the year prior. It was also made by Dieges & Clust and cast in a soft fourteen-karat gold. Though, because we talked a lot more about the ring specifics yesterday- the only notable difference was the year inscription was changed from “1927” to “1928” for obvious reasons- we’re going to talk about the second offering that the 1928 players received: a Hamilton “Piping Rock” wristwatch.
While the number of rings presented is unknown, we do know that Jacob Ruppert ordered 31 watches for the team, though Hamilton went ahead and produced 35 “Piping Rock” models of the championship watch. The Hamilton Watch Company, who ran operations out of Lancaster, PA from 1892-1969, produced the “Piping Rock” model in a white-gold casing of which they never used for any other watch in their catalogue again.
On the case back of the watch is an intricate design very similar to the shank of the ring (as seen below), with the words “YANKEES” above an eagle. Then comes a crossing bat design behind a small patriotic banner with the numbers “19” and “28” on either side. Finally comes the phrase “WORLD CHAMPIONS” across the bottom portion of the casing.
For more information on these watches check out Vintage-Hamilton-Wristwatches.com, here.
1932 World Series
After a few years from winning a World Series, the Yankees continued to keep a very similar design for their 3rd World Series ring. Like with the 1927 and 1928 versions of the ring, the 1932 ring was casted by Dieges & Clust in a soft fourteen-karat gold. It has the same patriotic eagle holding a “NEW YORK” banner in its mouth, an olive branch and arrows in its feet, a stars and stripes crest below it with a baseball on top. As per usual, the only difference on the shaft is the changing of the year to “1932”.
However, there are distinctive and features on the face of the 1932 ring. The first is that the main diamond is set into a silver “figural baseball diamond”. Following, and because of this, comes the second change as they did away with the 8-pointed star for a wreath design across the edge.
This was the second World Series ring to adopt the “diamond on a baseball diamond” look (inspired by the New York Giants 1922 ring), of which has been a feature on about 50 World Series rings since their first adoption in 1922.
1936 World Series
The 1936 World Series ring was the 4th World Championship ring that the New York Yankees produced. Unfortunately, there is nothing special about this ring (besides the year change on the shaft) that distinguishes it from either the 1932 World Series ring.
1937 World Series
The 1937 World Series ring was the 5th in the Yankees history, of which kept with the usual design elements that all the others before it wore on the shank. And, much like the 1932 and 1936 rings it also had a central diamond inlayed in a figural baseball diamond, however in the 1937 ring does feature an additional design element featured on it as well.
However, what makes the 1937 ring special is that it came with the 3rd watch (and 2nd pocket watch) that was also presented to the players with an element that ties it to both 1923 and 1928. Like the 1923 keepsake, the Yankees provided their players a pocket watch. Like the 1928 keepsake, this watch was created by the Hamilton Watch Company.
What is cool about these pocket watches is the brandishing of “WORLD CHAMPS” on the watch face, above the words “NEW YORK YANKEES” and the year “1937”. However, not much else is known (or easily accessible) about these pocket watches.
But, wait. There’s more! (And some of my own speculation.)
Not only did the Yankees issue a Hamilton pocket watch to their players after the 1937 World Series, but they also (may have) issued Hamilton wristwatches to part-time/journeyman players as well. One of these players, Don Heffner- who spent 1934 to 1937 with the Yankees, playing 161 games of which 60 were in 1937- had a Hamilton wristwatch engraved with the words “NYYANKEES” on the top over a crossed bat design with 2 inlayed diamonds with “WORLD CHAMPIONS” on the bottom. This watch went to auction in 2019.
(This next part is my speculation.)
I think the Yankees may have given the lesser players on the 1937 team a Hamilton wristwatch instead of the pocket watch, much like how a modern team would give a journeyman player a “B” ring instead of an “A” ring for a full-timer in the MLB. This is the earlier example of this (if true) that I can find in the Yankees championship history. On the auction page also comes a photo of Heffner wearing the watch while also donning a World Series ring which likely is also from 1937 (even though he was not on the roster for any Yankees World Series). It is an interesting case for why Heffner got a wristwatch, and a question that may never have an answer. Huh.
1938 World Series
The 1938 World Series ring was the 6th in New York Yankees history comes with the same shank (as always), and another small change to the ring face. On this ring came the same genuine diamond in a silver “figural baseball diamond”, however this was the first clear example of this “figural baseball diamond” on a Yankees championship ring as it appears each of the 4 corners is donned with a small square element to better represent the literal bases on the field. With this also came a small adaptation from the new design from 1937.
And, like 1937 the Yankees also provided an additional keepsake. And like 1937, the Yankees gave their players a Hamilton pocket watch. And, much like how the championship rings have stayed the same (except for the indication of the year on the ring), so did the pocket watch.