CHICAGO — When you win the World Series for the first time in 108 years, you can laugh at yourself. Take it from the Chicago Cubs, who baked an old source of angst into the 2016 championship rings they unveiled at Wrigley Field Wednesday night.
The rings incorporate many of the hallmarks of franchise lore: the bricks and ivy, the marquee and the “W” flag — and the goat.
Yes, etched on the inner band of the rings is a goat’s head, symbolizing the Curse of the Billy Goat, the hoary legend of a hex put on the franchise by a tavern owner whose pet was denied entry to the 1945 World Series. The Cubs did not reach the World Series again until last fall, when they beat the Cleveland Indians in seven games.
Three Cubs Hall of Famers — Fergie Jenkins, Ryne Sandberg and Billy Williams — also received rings, and one player gone from the championship roster, the retired catcher David Ross, was present to throw the ceremonial first pitch to pitcher Jon Lester.
“The 108 diamonds, when you hear that, before you even see the ring, you’re like, ‘Wow, that’s really cool,’ ” Ross said after leading the crowd in “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” during the seventh-inning stretch.
“But I love the date and time, that’s really cool,” he added, “because then you’re just thinking about, ‘Wow, it went into the next day,’ and the rain delay, so your memories go back. And for me, the biggest symbol of last year was the ‘W.’ It was all over Chicago.”
Ross’s performance on “Dancing With the Stars” was broadcast live on the Wrigley scoreboard during a rain delay Monday, before the team raised its championship banner. Anthony Rizzo, the star first baseman, carried the trophy onto the field after helping hoist the banner.
The flag-raising was a first for Wrigley Field, which opened in 1914, after the Cubs had won their only previous titles, in 1907 and 1908. Players received gold pendants for winning those championships, making this the first World Series ring in team history.
The Cubs said they would distribute precisely 1,908 rings and pins to players, team employees, ballpark staff members and Hall of Famers, including posthumous rings for Ernie Banks and Ron Santo.
“I heard Rizzo and Lester after we won it — ‘108 years, it better be big!’” said pitcher Kyle Hendricks, who started Game 7 in Cleveland. “They had 108 years to think about it. But we don’t care about how big it is; it’s the sense of accomplishment.”
The Cubs accomplished something their fans had wanted for generations, and now those fans can own a ring, too — for a price. The Cubs announced a partnership with the memorabilia company Jostens that allows fans to buy a limited-edition “108” Fan Ring for $10,800.