The Los Angeles Dodgers opened local defense of their World Series championship this weekend at Dodger Stadium with three wins, a great show and a lot of bling.
The white and yellow gold rings, each studded with 11-carats of diamonds and sapphires, and personally inscribed to every member of the team and staff, were presented in a ceremony prior to the home opener Friday. The rings cost about $50,000 each, a figure club president Stan Kasten declined to confirm.
“I don’t discuss finances,” Kasten told Sportico when asked specifically about the worth of the ring.
Estimating at least 100 rings hand-crafted by Jostens for field, front office staff and former Dodgers, that’s a $5 million gift to punctuate last October’s six-game World Series win over the Tampa Bay Rays played in the neutral confines of Arlington’s Globe Life Field, the first for the Dodgers since 1988.
Send thank you notes to Mark Walter and Guggenheim Baseball Management. Walter is the chairman and controlling owner of the Dodgers, which was recently valued by Sportico at $4.62 billion, third in Major League Baseball behind the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
Because of the coronavirus, the Dodgers didn’t play in front of fans, have a parade or hold a public celebration after winning it all last year.
But the ring ceremony and video presentations in front of a reduced, socially distanced crowd of 15,036 seemed sufficient.
“I’m over the moon,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said about it all. “It was a great day all the way around.”
The weekend? “It couldn’t have gone any better,” he added.
Guggenheim purchased the Dodgers for $2.15 billion from Frank McCourt in 2012, so that’s already a healthy profit.
Walter individually is worth $4.7 billion. He is the chief executive of Guggenheim Partners, an equity firm that handles about $500 billion in investments.
Although the Dodgers have opened the season 8-2, sweeping the Washington Nationals this weekend despite not having the injured Mookie Betts or Cody Bellinger in the lineup, there’s recognition by the Dodgers that winning doesn’t happen very often, so why skimp on ring cost or design?
This era’s Dodgers have been to the World Series three times in the last four years, having lost in 2017 to Houston and 2018 to Boston before finally winning it all in 2020 at the end of an abbreviated 60-game season and expanded playoff format.
Nobody knew at the time a highly successful team that won the World Series in 1981 and 1988, wouldn’t win it again in 32 years.
The World Series ring of 1988 was a much simpler affair, with 21 small diamonds circled around a main gem. The words “World Champion Dodgers” are carved in gold and 1988 is set below between baseballs.
The ring given to the late Don Drysdale back then was sold at auction five years ago for $22,796. Orel Hershiser’s 1988 ring, replete with his name and No. 55 on the side, flanking the overlapping LA logo is on the market for $17,500. Hershiser, it’s noted, still owns the ring, which comes complete in its box.
The dark, blue box that secures the 2020 ring is an eye-opener in itself.
When one lifts the lid to reveal the ring, on the inside of the cover is a video loop of highlights from last fall’s World Series.
“In the box? Is there a video in the box?” asked Dodgers catcher Will Smith. “I didn’t even see that.”
It’s hard to miss.
Smith didn’t miss the gaudiness of the ring, which has yet to be appraised, but must already be worth a mint in the open market. It has 222 round diamonds, 10 princess-cut diamonds , 45 custom-cut sapphires and eight round genuine sapphires. Dodger season ticket holders are being given an opportunity to purchase a limited edition of the ring for $35,000.
“Yeah, I mean, just looking at the ring it’s way bigger than what I thought it would be,” Smith added. “You knew it was going to be pretty sweet, but actually getting to hold it and see it, see your name and number on it was pretty special.”
Clayton Kershaw, the longest-tenured Dodger by far, in his 14th season, seemed to drink in the moment with gusto. With years of subpar postseason performances fading away, Kershaw actually took the ring out of the box, put it on his finger and waved to the roaring fans.
“It was the culmination of everything from last year, getting to see that ring for the first time, putting it on,” said the veteran left-hander, who worked six scoreless innings Sunday in a 3-0 win. “It was emotional for me to be a part of. Just a lot of gratitude from me.”
Roberts is only the third manager in Dodgers history to manage one of the club’s seven World Series-winning teams. Walter Alston and Tommy Lasorda, who just passed away this offseason at 93, are the other.
Roberts, though, played for one of the most famous World Series-winning teams, the 2004 Red Sox, stealing perhaps the most significant base in Boston history to ward off a sweep by the New York Yankees in that American League Championship Series.
Lasorda’s visage was a presence all weekend, particularly during the Opening Day ring ceremony.
Roberts was presented his ring by Lasorda’s daughter, Laura.
“I thought that was something special,” Roberts said. “Obviously, it was great to bring Tommy back to the stadium. For me, I got choked up a little bit thinking about Tommy. I won’t talk about it too much more, but to get those rings even in front of a limited amount of fans was great.
“The fans, the fly over. That’s what Opening Day is all about, and I expect to do it all again next year.”