I will never own a World Series, Super Bowl, or NBA Championship ring.
I came to terms with this when I was announcing my retirement from baseball at the age of 17. As the lone attendee to my news conference announcing my decision, my childhood dog, Maggie, was very supportive.
I, like so many others whose athletic career met a similar inglorious end, marvel at the very sight of a championship ring. Even after 20+ years in sports media, and after having seen probably a hundred or so of these monstrosities of gold and diamonds, my fondest wish is to have just once been a part of something special enough to warrant a symbol of such excellence for all to see.
Problem is most people who own championship rings never wear them.
Some even sell them.
Case in point; right now, if you have $3,999, you apparently can have 1982 Cy Young Award Winner Pete Vuckovich's American League Championship ring, currently listed on eBay.
I can only speculate as to why Vuckovich would want to sell his ring. It's possible he needs the money. All it takes is spending five minutes with a ballplayer from his era to realize the biggest thing that has changed over the years is how much players are paid. In 1980, for example, the average salary was just over $143,000. Today it is more than $3.3 million.
Vuckovich may also just not care about a reminder of the Brewers loss in the World Series. After all, both teams that participate in championship games get rings; of course the winner of the series gets a much bigger one.
Not many Brewers wear their 1982 American League Championship rings. I asked Jerry Augustine about his and he told me that he has maybe worn his all of three times. I've never seen Robin Yount or Paul Molitor wear theirs – then again, Molitor has a winning ring from his time in Toronto.
I've only worn two championship rings in my lifetime. When the late Packers defensive coordinator, Fritz Shurmur spoke at a Milwaukee Pen and Mike Club luncheon in 1998 he couldn't wait to allow everyone at our table the chance to wear his Super Bowl XXXI ring. I also had the chance to wear Bucks legend Jon McGlocklin's ring at a team media day event last year.
Both rings fit perfectly. At least that is how I'm going to remember it.
The only time you really see Super Bowl rings is along radio row the week of the actual game. They have become, as they were intended to be, the ultimate display of accomplishment. During Super Bowl week, players love to show their rings off, compare the changes over the years, and in some cases, wear as many of them as they can.
The Packers rings for their defeat of the Steelers in February are truly a sight to behold. However, you are more likely to see them on a front office staffer than you are on a player. That is, until they retire and make the rounds the week of the Super Bowl.
As the Brewers inch closer towards their first World Series in 29 years (and possibly their first ever championship), it saddens me to think of their best pitcher's ultimate memento being shipped off to the highest bidder. If I were a millionaire, I would simply purchase the ring and offer it back to Vuckovich. If he didn't want it, I would donate it back to the Brewers for inclusion into their hall of fame and museum that doesn't exist yet, but hopefully will someday.
I guess my hope for the ring's ultimate destination is to someone who will at least appreciate it for what it is. Yes, the Brewers may have come up just short of their goal that season, but that team, featuring four future Hall-of-Famers, remains the club by which two generations of Brewers players have been measured against.
No matter the outcome of the 1982 series; nor the outcome of the 2011 one, the bauble offered up on eBay is simply priceless for anyone who grew up with Brewers baseball in their blood.
Hey boss...can I borrow 4 grand?
Doug Russell has been covering Milwaukee and Wisconsin sports for over 20 years on radio, television, magazines, and now at OnMilwaukee.com.
Over the course of his career, the Edward R. Murrow Award winner and Emmy nominee has covered the Packers in Super Bowls XXXI, XXXII and XLV, traveled to Pasadena with the Badgers for Rose Bowls, been to the Final Four with Marquette, and saw first-hand the entire Brewers playoff runs in 2008 and 2011. Doug has also covered The Masters, several PGA Championships, MLB All-Star Games, and Kentucky Derbys; the Davis Cup, the U.S. Open, and the Sugar Bowl, along with NCAA football and basketball conference championships, and for that matter just about anything else that involves a field (or court, or rink) of play.
Doug was a sports reporter and host at WTMJ-AM radio from 1996-2000, before taking his radio skills to national syndication at Sporting News Radio from 2000-2007. From 2007-2011, he hosted his own morning radio sports show back here in Milwaukee, before returning to the national scene at Yahoo! Sports Radio last July. Doug's written work has also been featured in The Sporting News, Milwaukee Magazine, Inside Wisconsin Sports, and Brewers GameDay.
Doug and his wife, Erika, split their time between their residences in Pewaukee and Houston, TX.