Ringing in the title: Sox get hardware

Ringing in the title: Sox get hardware

CHICAGO -- It was a World Series ring ceremony almost nine decades in the making, and the pomp and excitement put forth by the White Sox organization Tuesday afternoon certainly didn't let down the fans who supported the team or the players who produced the championship.

The White Sox plan to give out 432 World Series rings and 163 pendants -- to wives or significant others -- in total. That list covers players and associates of the organization, as well as Hall of Famers Luis Aparicio and Carlton Fisk, and families of past team owners, including Charles Comiskey, Mary Frances Veeck and John Allyn.

But with former players such as Aaron Rowand, Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, Willie Harris and Timo Perez in attendance, not to mention Commissioner Bud Selig, World Series rings officially were presented to the participants, members of the coaching staff, manager Ozzie Guillen, general manager Ken Williams and chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.

Great anticipation was the overriding feeling among the players, hours before the start of Tuesday's contest. None of them had received even the slightest glimpse of the rings, delivered by DHL on Monday morning.

"That's the biggest thing, no one's seen it and you want to see it," said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski of the ring. "I don't know what to really expect.

"I've never done this before. I'm sure it'll be emotional. I'm sure it'll bring back a lot of memories, and I'm sure it'll be happy and have a good feeling."

At promptly 12:30 p.m. CT, the celebration began with tuxedo-clad, white-gloved members of the White Sox front office carrying the rings in from center field on silver platters, eventually forming a circle around the mound. Reinsdorf, Selig and Williams presented the rings to each individual, with Williams pumping his fist to the fans' approval as he walked on to the field.

The White Sox chairman didn't really know what to expect in regard to Tuesday's pregame festivities, aside from his major role in the proceedings.

"This whole thing was a Brooks Boyer production," said Reinsdorf with a smile, referring to the team's vice president of marketing. "The only thing I knew was that Selig, Kenny [Williams] and I were supposed to stand there, and Buddy would hand each of us the ring."

Dale Petroskey, the president of the Baseball Hall of Fame, received the first ring, followed by a presentation to Aparicio. Roger Bossard, the White Sox head groundskeeper, was the initial staff member to be presented a ring on the field. Every full-time employee of the White Sox received a ring, while a whole secondary group of people close to the organization were presented with watches.

"We tried to find an objective place to cut it off," Reinsdorf said. "Hopefully, we didn't miss anyone."

As each player, coach or trainer walked toward the mound to pick up his ring, one of the front office members stepped forward and handed Selig the ring, who then gave it to Reinsdorf, who then rewarded the recipient. There also was a list of player on the left field scoreboard who received rings but could not attend, including Frank Thomas, Geoff Blum, Carl Everett and Joe Borchard, as well as lesser-known contributors such as reliever Jeff Bajenaru and catcher Raul Casanova.

Both Harris and El Duque received loud ovations from the soldout crowd, all of whom were on their feet from the start to the end of the ceremony. Apparently, the new baseball locations for both wouldn't erase memories of El Duque's heroic relief effort in Game 3 of the Division Series at Boston or Harris scoring the winning run in the clinching game of the World Series at Minute Maid Park.

The loudest and longest ovation, aside from the one reserved for Guillen as the last ring recipient before Williams and Reinsdorf, was reserved for Rowand. As soon as a picture of the fan favorite was put on the center field Jumbotron, the crowd began to erupt.

Rowand gave bear hugs to both Reinsdorf and Williams, before acknowledging the cheering masses with a wave of the hand. After starting in center field for his new team in Philadelphia on Monday, Rowand arrived at around 3 a.m. Tuesday CT in Chicago. If it was at all humanly possible, Rowand wasn't about to miss this particular opportunity.

"I wasn't sure if we were going to have a game or not," Rowand said. "Obviously, if we were playing, it would have been tough on me to get back here."

Pierzynski and Paul Konerko were the final two players to receive their rings. When Guillen was announced, he walked on to the field pointing to all the people already lined up down the third-base line who made this day possible.

World Series Most Valuable Player Jermaine Dye presented Williams with his ring, while Konerko did the honors for Reinsdorf. It wasn't quite as stunning or moving for Reinsdorf as the last time Konerko gave the chairman a gift, presenting him with the baseball from the last out of the World Series during the White Sox victory parade.

"The ball was more emotional and really overwhelmed me," Reinsdorf said. "I knew Paul was going to give me the ring. I had been told that. But I really appreciated Paul giving me the ring, after he gave me the ball."

Earlier Tuesday morning, Jeff Idelson, the Baseball Hall of Fame's vice president of communications and education, displayed the World Series rings for the last 10 champions in the White Sox clubhouse. The Marlins' ring from 2003 easily was the biggest of the group.

In contrast, the White Sox ring might be the most wearable, as described by Reinsdorf. The ring was designed by Martyl Reinsdorf, the chairman's wife and an accomplished jewelry designer, and was produced by Josten's in Princeton, Ill. Each ring contains 14-karat yellow gold with a 14-karat white gold insert and a White Sox logo crest on a black onyx base stone.

There are 95 brilliant diamonds of various sizes, equaling over two karats. The individual's name and the team's 99-63 record is engraved on one side, with "World Champions, 2005, 11-1" engraved on the other side.

Guillen is a proud owner of one of those rings from 2003 with the Marlins, as Florida's third-base coach. But the White Sox ring will have the greatest meaning for Guillen and his charges, that is, unless the South Siders win the championship again in 2006.

"I'll wear it proudly, all the time," Rowand said.

"This is something that every team [that wins] does and every team should do," Pierzynski added of the ceremony. "That's the way it should be because of how special it is, and they want the fans to celebrate it, too."

With so many rings handed out, Reinsdorf gave watches to each of the 25 players on the active roster at the end of last season, the staff and the clubhouse workers to mark their special collective achievement. It was an unforgettable day, sealed by a huge ovation from the crowd, as Guillen heartily embraced his boss.

"I never hugged anyone so hard then when I hugged Jerry," Guillen said. "I know how much that moment mean to him and Kenny. They worked so many years. Finally, they get it done and hopefully they will have another one soon."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.