03/30/11 3:56 PM ET
Yankee Stadium Museum opens ring exhibition
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
Thanks to Balfour, the company that has made every Yankees championship emblem since 1941, the Yankees will be able to reconstruct their historic lineage with exact replicas of each of their World Series souvenirs. New York has 26 rings and one pocket watch representing its 27 championships, a run of success that goes all the way back to 1923.
Brian Richards, curator of the Yankee Stadium Museum, said the display should enrich the fan experience at the stadium.
"One of the most frequently asked questions I get is, 'Do you have rings on display?' " he said. "People are very interested to see the emblems of each World Series the team has won. And understandably so, because I am, too. So when Balfour suggested that this is something we could display in the museum, and it was passed along to me, I thought it was a wonderful idea."
Balfour reconstructed each of the championship emblems, some of which came before their association with the team. The Yankees are still waiting on a replica of the pocket watch given to the winners of the 1923 World Series title, but every ring is represented, starting with the immortal 1927 team and carrying all the way through the 2009 champions. There's even room for future rings.
The exhibit displays the club's championship emblems in chronological order. Some of the rings from the '20s appear to be relatively simple, and the designs for the rings seem to get more complex over time.
"I was a little surprised how similar a lot of the rings are," said Richards. "If you look at a lot of the rings from the 1920s and '30s -- and then later the 1950s -- there was a lot of similarity. There wasn't a lot of variation from year to year. By the time the team won the World Series in 1977 and '78, you could tell they were making them a little bit more unique. And since the team won its 21st championship in 1996, each one has been really distinctive and unique."
Richards said that the championship emblems are a new permanent display at the museum, which was designed to give Yankees fans a more tangible link to the team's storied past. Richards said that the team had a perfect opportunity to set space aside when it was designing the new stadium, and he said that the museum has been a huge hit with fans of all ages.
"I think this will certainly be one of the most popular displays we have, if not the most popular," he said of the Balfour exhibit. "The World Series trophies, of course, are very popular and draw a lot of attention. But I have no doubt that this will, too. It's really busy every day. It's a really popular spot, and I think this will make the visitor experience that much better."
Richards told an amusing anecdote about former Yankees infielder Frank Crosetti, who was part of a 17 World Series winners as a player and coach. Crosetti stopped getting rings at some point and decided instead that he'd prefer an engraved shotgun. The Yankees accommodated him, but none of the guns will be on display at the museum at any time soon.
For now, there's just the rings, the trophies and a sense of history available to anyone who wants to take a look. The World Series ring is ubiquitous now, Richards said, but it's easy to forget that it wasn't always a part of the game.
"There wasn't [always] a uniform commemorative emblem," he said. "The 1922 World Series was the first year when rings were made and issued for all players. The New York Giants beat the Yankees in the World Series that year. In 1923, the Yankees got pocket watches for winning, and 1927 was the first year that the Yankees got rings. In some years, the players could vote, and they would had their choice as to whether they wanted rings or wristwatches, which were especially popular in the '20s and '30s."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.