CHICAGO -- For the first time ever, Cubs players received World Series championship rings, a piece of jewelry and history that they will cherish forever.
In a pregame ceremony Wednesday night at Wrigley Field, the diamond-, ruby- and sapphire-loaded rings were presented to commemorate the Cubs ending the 108-year drought and winning the World Series. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts was first to receive his from Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred.
A total of 1,908 rings and pins will be distributed to Cubs players, coaches, ownership, executives, front office associates, ballpark staff, partners and Hall of Fame alumni, including posthumous rings for the late Ernie Banks and Ron Santo, which will be saved in the Wrigley Field archives.
Cubs fans selected through a contest were the ring-bearers and presented the jewelry to the players. World Series MVP Ben Zobrist was the last of the players to get one.
"I think it's the perfect method to do this tonight," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of the fan presentation. "The folks who are part of the ceremony, they will never forget tonight, and even the folks sitting in the stands watching."
The ring is made from 14-karat white gold. Its top features the traditional Cubs' bull's-eye logo, crafted from 33 custom-cut genuine red rubies that are surrounded by 72 round white diamonds, all within a circular perimeter made up of 46 custom-cut, genuine blue sapphires. The bezel is surrounded by 108 round white diamonds to signify the end of a historic 108-year championship drought. Overall, the ring contains 214 diamonds at 5.5 karats, 3 karats of genuine red rubies and 2.5 karats of genuine sapphires.
One side features the player's name set atop the iconic "W" flag, which is created from 31 round white diamonds and a fire blue corundum understone that forms the "W." Silhouette images of Wrigley Field's bricks and ivy surround the flag and the player's number, which sits below the flag.
The other side features the year "2016" above the iconic Wrigley Field facade and marquee, displaying the message "CUBS WIN!" A silhouette of the World Series trophy sits below the marquee with a large round white diamond set in the center, signifying the 2016 World Series victory. Two princess-cut diamonds flank the trophy, representing the team's two previous World Series titles. Wrigley Field's bricks complete the background.
On the palm at the bottom of the outer band is the team's rally cry, "We never quit." On the inside of the ring is a custom triple arbor that features the local date and time the championship was won -- "11-3-16, 12:47 am" -- and the series scores and logos of the three teams the Cubs defeated on their epic journey. An image of the infamous goat representing a supposed franchise curse is included on the inner band.
Jon Lester received his third World Series championship ring, Zobrist got his second, while young Addison Russell, 23, got his first. The jewelry might mean even more to people like the Cubs clubhouse staff, manager Tom Hellmann and assistant Gary Stark. This is Hellmann's 43rd year in baseball, Stark's 40th. Stark began as a bat boy at Wrigley Field, while Hellmann started in 1974 with the Reds in Cincinnati.
"I've been waiting a long time," Hellmann said.
The practice of giving out World Series rings dates to the early 1920s. The Baseball Hall of Fame website includes photos of World Series rings, with the earliest from 1922. Prior to rings, it was up to the teams to decide what, if anything, they would give the players and staff. Among the items were commemorative watches, stick pins, pendants and money clips.
The 1907 and '08 World Series-champion Cubs received watch fobs, which was a small medallion designed to be added to the chain of a pocket watch.
The rings are a little nicer than a watch fob.
"It truly represents quite an accomplishment, and it's something we'll have for the rest of our lives," Maddon said.
However, don't expect to see Maddon wearing his ring. He has never worn the ring he received after the Angels won the World Series in 2002.
"I'm not a jewelry guy," Maddon said. "I love the concept or thought of having it. I have not worn it one time."
"I probably won't [wear it]," Anthony Rizzo said, "but I probably will. We'll see how it fits, we'll see how it looks."
Who will wear it the most among the players?
"[Pedro] Strop," Maddon said of the Cubs reliever. "He'll wear it to sleep, he'll wear it in the shower, he'll wear it everywhere, man."
Rizzo has talked to people who have championship rings, and they say everyone wants to simply touch it.
"When people on the street see these rings, it's special," Rizzo said.
Think about it -- it's the first World Series championship ring ever for the Cubs.
"I'm definitely going to wear it sometimes, but it's not something I'll wear every day," Miguel Montero said. "It's like buying a Ferrari and putting it in the garage -- you want to drive it, you want to show it off. It's something you earned and you want to be able to enjoy it."
He wouldn't mind another one either.
"Mission accomplished -- now I'll get a ring, so let's try to get another one this year," Montero said.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.