For many years, “1908” represented the year of the last Cubs World Series title.
After breaking that drought in 2016, “1908” will forever represent something quite a bit more special. It’s the number of championship rings they’ll give to players, coaches, ownership, executives, front office associates, ballpark staff, partners and Hall of Fame alumni.
Wednesday night, we saw the last event held by the Cubs relating to that title, until the team has reunions of its 2016 team years down the road.
The pregame ceremony at Wrigley Field, emceed by Cubs TV voice Len Kasper, in which they presented Cubs executives, coaches, players and Hall of Famers with championship rings hit just the right notes. For those of us who rooted for Billy Williams and Fergie Jenkins as kids and wished they’d have been able to win a World Series, seeing them presented with rings as part of the Cubs family completed a circle that began decades ago. Ryne Sandberg, part of another group of Cubs who fell short of the ultimate goal, got a ring too, representing a later generation of Cubs beloved by fans.
The Cubs made rings for Ernie Banks and Ron Santo, too, which will be saved in the Wrigley Field archives. This was a kind gesture to two men who meant so much to this franchise for so many years. As Kasper said, both of those men devoted their entire lives to the Chicago Cubs.
For the 20 fans chosen in the contest to present rings, including my friend George Wiseman, that, too, was the culmination of dreams of any Cubs fan, to not only experience the World Series championship, but by being included in the ceremony, to be a small part of it. I saw George later in the evening and he was still quite emotionally overwhelmed by all of it.
I think we all were. This ceremony, and the flag-raising Monday night, are things that no living person had ever seen, and for many years I think many of us despaired we might never see such things for our team, at our ballpark. While the ceremonies close the book on the wonderful 2016 season, the memories will last for the rest of our lives.
Here’s a short video explaining how the design for the ring was chosen, courtesy of the Cubs. This video was played at Wrigley after the ceremony.
Look how big these rings are! David Ross got one of the loudest ovations for any of the players who received rings.
Joe Maddon, as always, with the cogent quotes:
Who on the #Cubs will wear ring the most? Maddon: "Strop. He'll wear it to sleep, he'll wear it in the shower, he'll wear it everywhere"— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) April 12, 2017
#Cubs Maddon described rings as tasty and grande. "As a keepsake it's outstanding "— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) April 13, 2017
And one more, from pitcher Jon Lester:
Jon Lester on his ring: "This blows the other two out of the water."— Mark Grote (@markgrotesports) April 13, 2017
Not just for the ring itself, I think, but for what it means and represents.
The Jostens company designed this ring, which is made from 14-karat white gold. The top features the traditional Cubs logo, which includes 33 custom-cut genuine red rubies surrounded by 72 round white diamonds, within a circular perimeter made up of 46 custom-cut, genuine blue sapphires. The bezel is surrounded by 108 round white diamonds lifting the Cubs logo to victory and signifying the end of the 108-year championship drought. Overall, the ring contains 214 diamonds at 5.5 karats, 3 karats of genuine red rubies and 2.5 karats of genuine sapphires.
One side features the player’s name set atop the iconic W Flag, which is created from 31 round white diamonds and a fire blue corundum understone that forms the “W.” Silhouette images of Wrigley Field’s bricks and ivy surround the flag and the player’s number, which sits below the flag.
The other side features the year 2016 above the iconic Wrigley Field façade and Marquee, displaying the message “CUBS WIN!” A silhouette of the World Series Trophy sits below the Marquee with a large round white diamond set in the center, signifying the 2016 World Series victory. Two princess-cut diamonds flank the trophy, representing the team’s two previous World Series titles. Wrigley Field’s bricks complete the background.
On the palm at the bottom of the outer band is the team’s rally cry, “WE NEVER QUIT.” On the inside of the ring is a custom triple arbor that features the date and time the championship was won – “11-3-16, 12:47 am” – and the series scores and logos of the three teams the Cubs defeated on their epic journey to becoming 2016 World Series Champions.
Finally, and I don’t know if I’d have included this but I suppose the team decided that they’d put this to rest forever: The ring includes an image of the infamous goat representing a supposed franchise curse, on the inner band.
Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and President of Business Operations Crane Kenney led the team’s design committee with input from the players.
Beyond all this, you can buy memorabilia related to the championship ring. The Jostens Store at The Park at Wrigley opened right after the ring ceremony and will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. There, you can shop for exclusive items that commemorate the Cubs’ World Series victory, including the Limited Edition “108 Ring” – of which there are only 108 available (the cost: a mere $10,800), and that ring includes many of the elements featured in the Player’s Championship Ring.
All of this is also on display and available online at jostens.com/cubsfan.
With all the pomp and ceremony complete, the Cubs move on to their next quest: Trying to win another one of these this year!