O’Malley’s Ring Designs
In their illustrious history in both Brooklyn and Los Angeles, the Dodgers have won 21 National League Pennants since 1890 and six World Championships (1955 in Brooklyn and 1959, 1963, 1965, 1981 and 1988 in Los Angeles). With each of these titles came a beautifully designed ring, commemorating for a lifetime the accomplishment and given to the players, manager, coaches and front office personnel.
The late Bill Stuckman, conceptual designer with Balfour, the company that designed the Dodgers rings since the 1950s, wasn’t personally involved in the very first design in 1955, but in a 1989 interview he described that ring.
“The 1955 ring was a die stamped-type ring, meaning that it was made flat,” he said. “It was the finest, state-of-the-art ring at that time. It’s a lightweight ring, as opposed to what is done now. That ring was manufactured by friends of the O’Malleys in New York. On one side, it has a globe with Dodgers on it. On the other side, is a baseball with crossed bats. At this point, the player’s name was engraved on the inside of the ring. Walter O’Malley liked white gold. He thought it was the finest that could be done in jewelry, and he knew a lot about jewelry. He was fun to work with because he was so knowledgeable.
“In 1958, when they moved out to Los Angeles, I called on Mr. (Walter) O’Malley and Mr. (Buzzie) Bavasi,” said Stuckman. “They liked to tell me that all they ever did was buy from the people who did the ’55 ring. But they were very cordial through it all. They were fascinating people. After they had won in 1959, we agreed that we would be their supplier. I would do the designing, as I have done for all subsequent rings. I didn’t do the artwork, but the conceptual design. At that point, we were still die striking rings.
“In 1959, we still had crossed bats and a baseball. It was the first ring design that put the actual player’s autograph on the baseball. Nobody had ever done that. They had just put their names on it. Mr. O’Malley would always count the number of stitches on the baseball for accuracy. We took the autograph and duplicated it in steel which was pressed into the ring. Again, the ’59 ring was 14 karat white gold. It had a large blue sapphire stone, because of Dodger blue and also Mr. O’Malley wanted everyone to know the team had won the World Championship. On the other shank, was the year, the Dodgers logo and City Hall of Los Angeles. City Hall, the tallest building in Los Angeles at the time, was important to him because he wanted something symbolic of the city.”
It would be four years later that the Dodgers would capture their third World Championship in history, but this one was particularly satisfying as it came in the fashion of a four-game sweep over the longtime rival New York Yankees.
“In ’59 and ’63, basically Mr. O’Malley was the only person I worked with,” said Stuckman. “In all cases, he wanted the rings to be a secret, so that no one knew what they were going to look like until the players got them on Opening Day. It’s always been a secret, only because he thought the impact was greater. We had on one side ‘4 Straight’ and the scores of the World Series games. That was a fabulous Series. It was over so fast that everyone was stunned. On the top, or bezel as we know it, it says ‘Los Angeles World Champions.’ It was a nice blue sapphire. We had one shank with the player’s name and crossed bats. Again it was 14 karat white gold — the finest.
“In 1965, crossed bats and a ball were on one side with the player’s name and autograph on the ball. The other side was ‘Dodgers’ with the interlocking L.A. below it. Again, it was 14 karat gold. It has the World Series championship with a nice diamond set against the background of the blue sapphire.”
Any Dodger who has been a member of one of the World Championship teams wears the ring with pride, knowing full well that he is one of the fortunate few.
Source: By Brent Shyer, excerpted from Dodgers Magazine, May 1989, “The Rings, World Championship...has a nice ring to it!”