By ANDREW SELIGMAN, AP Sports Writer
CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Cubs have their glittering rings to go with that historic championship.
The team was given its crowning jewels before Wednesday night’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, with fans at Wrigley Field roaring as the ceremony unfolded. That put the final punctuation on a celebration 108 years in the making, one that started when the Cubs beat Cleveland in Game 7 last November for their first World Series title since 1908.
They raised the championship banner on Monday night in Chicago and got their sparkling rewards Wednesday.
Each 14-karat white gold ring has a total of 214 diamonds, three karats of red rubies and 2.5 karats of sapphires. The top of the ring features 33 red rubies forming the team’s bull’s-eye logo surrounded by 72 round white diamonds, all in a circular perimeter. The bezel features 108 round white diamonds — one for each year of the drought.
No wonder the rings arrived at Wrigley Field in an armored truck on Tuesday.
One side also features the player’s name above a W flag surrounded by a silhouette of Wrigley’s bricks and ivy, with the player’s number below it. The other side features the year 2016 above the ballpark’s facade and marquee, with a silhouette of the trophy flanked by two diamonds symbolizing the club’s previous two titles and a large, round, white diamond in the center.
On the palm at the bottom of the outer band is the date and time of the Cubs’ victory — “11-3-16, 12:47 a.m.” — along with the Series scores and the logos of the three teams Chicago beat in the postseason. There’s also an image of a goat, a nod to the supposed franchise curse.
“It’s heavy, man,” pitcher John Lackey said. “It’s really nice. Seriously, I’ve been fortunate to have a couple more, but this is kind of next level for sure.”
Young slugger Kyle Schwarber said: “That’s how you want your ring to look.”
A highlight video kicked off the festivities Wednesday. Commissioner Rob Manfred then presented rings to members of the Ricketts family that owns the team, starting with chairman Tom Ricketts and his wife.
Team executives came next, with fans chanting President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein’s name as he accepted his ring from Ricketts. Cubs Hall of Famers Fergie Jenkins, Ryne Sandberg and Billy Williams got theirs. So did manager Joe Maddon and his coaches.
For the players, the Cubs added a different twist. In a nod to the support they received through more than a century of heartbreak and frustration, the team had 20 contest-winning fans serve as ring bearers for the guys in gloves and cleats.
“Based on 108 years of difficulties, I think it’s the perfect method to do this,” Maddon said.
Ranging from 13 to 90 years old, the fans were selected from a pool of more than 1,500 video submissions on Twitter. They were nominated by friends, family and co-workers.
They included Jimmy Thurman, a 90-year-old World War II veteran from Kewanee, Illinois. In his submission, a mock “Tonight Show” video, he recalled becoming a Cubs fan in the late 1930s because his mom was. He passed that love down through his family, and he got to hand 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta his ring.
Was the night all he hoped it would be?
“It was more,” Thurman said. “My greatest one was 65 years ago when I married my wife (Wilma). That was number one, but this is right behind it.”
Joanne Harrer of suburban Naperville was nominated by her granddaughter, Amanda.
In the video, Amanda recalled watching countless games on TV and trips to Milwaukee and Washington with her grandma. Joanne Harrer also showed off an impressive collection of Cubs shirts. The two were flying to Arizona for spring training when they got an email saying they were among the winners.
“This is one of the best moments of my life,” said Joanne Harrer, who presented pitcher Mike Montgomery with his ring. “It’s just been wonderful. I still can’t believe all this is happening.”
Amy Liss of Downers Grove, a motivational speaker born with cerebral palsy, got wheeled out by her twin sister, Kelly Moreland, to hand Kris Bryant his ring.
“I was shocked and it’s still pretty surreal,” she said. “This definitely will be a lifelong memory. I don’t think the excitement in my heart will ever be over.”
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