PAWTUCKET — The finished product had to be something that embodied the 2012 Governors’ Cup title the Pawtucket Red Sox won.
After discussing the anatomy of a championship ring – a glittery reminder of what was achieved – with PawSox general manager Lou Schwechheimer, it became clear why so much time and energy was put into coming up with the perfect keepsake. For the purpose of this exercise, we thought it would be appropriate to touch upon several key subject plots that were taken into consideration during the “has a nice ring to it” process.
Finding the right designer
Jim Dougher and Jostens have been loyal advertisers with the PawSox for 30 years, according to Schwechheimer. The day after Pawtucket captured the International League crown in Charlotte, Dougher reached out to express congratulations and let team president Mike Tamburro and Schwechheimer know that Jostens would love to have the opportunity to produce the championship rings.
“The funny thing is, there’s so much competition when you win. The really great craftsmen are aware, so we were getting beautiful letters and designs from companies,” Schwechheimer said. “Jim and his company have been great partners with the PawSox. They did our 1984 (Governors’ Cup rings). Mike and I were lucky enough to receive a Red Sox World Series ring in 2004 and 2007; (Jostens) had done those as well.
“You’re dealing with a world class company, second to none in craftsmanship,” he added. “Jim is a friend and we trusted him and his crew completely.”
Selecting a design
The elements of a championship ring should embody the memorable feat. It should also include the input of those fortunate enough to receive this shiny memento.
No doubt taking the latter into account, Pawtucket formed a ring design committee that included Tamburro, Schwechheimer, and Arnie Beyeler, the manager responsible for delivering the franchise’s first championship in 28 years.
“It became a group where everybody had particular thoughts and ideas of what was important,” Schwechheimer noted. “I used to kid Arnie that if this baseball thing doesn’t work out, he could be a ring designer because he had a lot of good ideas. It was important to him to really do something that would honor the players’ achievements.”
Beyeler, who this season, begins the next phase of his baseball odyssey as the first base coach of the Boston Red Sox, was appreciative of having a say in the matter.
“Lou was nice enough to send (suggestions) and bounce ideas off me,” he said. “We mixed and matched a few things, but (the PawSox brain trust) was really good about everything.”
After much consulting and email exchanges, the PawSox whittled the possible designs down to a final four. The process of agreeing upon one universal design did not fall squarely on the shoulders of Tamburro, Schwechheimer, and Beyeler; select members of the front office were also brought in and asked for their feedback.
“We voted on the elements that we liked the most,” recalled Schwechheimer. “Everybody’s thrilled with the ultimate final design.”
The best way to describe the ring is classy and elegant, and no gaudy over-the-top features on display here. The top of the ring showcases a baseball diamond that’s accompanied by a red ruby at every base. In the middle of the diamond is a ruby stone cut in the old English “P,” which is the PawSox logo that everyone has come to know and recognize.
“It’s something that stands the test of time,” remarked Schwechheimer about the visible portion of the ring, which besides the red rubies, also features an array of tiny diamonds within the baseball diamond. “International League Champions” is also indicated and located underneath a string of diamonds that serves as the outermost layer.
(As a side note, the rubies are being crafted in Germany, while the actual ring production takes place in the United States.)
One of the rings’ sides depicts tradition, while the other is an ode to the recipients. One side features “2012 Governors’ Cup” – Beyeler expressed his wishes to have the ring mention what the PawSox actually won – along with an image of the trophy that was presented to the team. Right below the trophy design are the years 1973 and 1984, the two prior instances when Pawtucket captured the Governors’ Cup.
“That’s a tribute to the teams that came before us and Arnie understanding the rich history of the organization,” said Schwechheimer.
The opposite side contains the person’s last name right above the PawSox logo that features the franchise’s entire name with the two socks imposed over a baseball. The last detail, which Schwechheimer described as “very personal,” reveals each person’s function within the PawSox hierarchy. For instance, Beyeler will receive a ring with “MGR” while the players will have their uniform number on theirs.
Who gets a ring?
All told, 69 players suited up for the PawSox in 2012 – one shy of the franchise record set on two occasions (1995, 2006). Whether their role was big or small, their time in Pawtucket lengthy or brief, everyone who put on a PawSox uniform can say they were part of an outfit that was the best among International League participants.
That being said, it was important to lay out specific credentials regarding ring beneficiaries. Each player who was part of Pawtucket’s playoff run would automatically receive a ring, along with those who were on the roster for 30 consecutive days. Even though players such as Will Middlebrooks, Mauro Gomez, Pedro Ciriaco, Justin Germano, Brandon Duckworth, Ryan Lavarnway, and Jose Iglesias had long since departed the premises by the time the PawSox caught fire, their contributions would not go unnoticed.
“Whether someone had one or 100 or 600 at-bats, we felt it was an organization-wide effort and we would honor everybody collectively as one big team,” Schwechheimer said.
All told, over 100 rings will be done for the players, coaches, front office members and clubhouse staff.
“The organization has always been about ‘we’ and how no one person is bigger than the entire operation,” stated Schwechheimer. “This is a way to say that it was a ‘we’ effort from the players, coaching staff, clubhouse guys, and batboys.”
As the PawSox celebrated and danced the night away in Charlotte on that memorable September night, the process of acquiring ring sizes was already well under way. Prior to Game 3 of the International League finals, Pawtucket trainer Jon Jochim did a spreadsheet in the hopes that it would soon be filled.
“We sized them up in the clubhouse while they were soaked and wet,” smiled Schwechheimer. “We got 35 guys out of the way that night.”
As for tracking down the players who fell under the 30-consecutive-days mandate, it required total teamwork. Between Beyeler texting former players, along with assistance of Red Sox senior director of minor-league operations Raquel Ferreira and farm director Ben Crockett, the PawSox eventually got their men. Schwechheimer said that the last ring sizes didn’t filter in until early January.
The orders have been placed, with Schwechheimer expecting a sample for final approval to arrive at McCoy Stadium sometime over the next few weeks. If everything checks out accordingly, then production will begin in earnest.
The rings will come in a commemorative mahogany box that will serve as a proper place for safekeeping. Plans are already under way for a ring ceremony when the PawSox open the 2013 season at home on Thursday, April 11. If players are playing elsewhere in the International League, the plan is to pay tribute to them with an on-field presentation during their first visit back to McCoy.
If there are enough PawSox players on Boston’s Opening Day roster, it’s possible that a ring ceremony could take place at Fenway Park sometime in April. If players are in the Pacific Coast League or Japan, arrangements will be made.
“The beauty of the rings is that when they proudly put them on, they’ll know they’ve earned them,” said Schwechheimer.