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Archive for Saturday, March 6, 2004

Marlins spare no expense for championship ring

March 6, 2004

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— Reliever Ugueth Urbina plans to wear the Florida Marlins' huge new championship ring on his thumb. Third baseman Mike Lowell jokes that he'll need a bodyguard to protect it. Manager Jack McKeon says he'll be reluctant to wear it all the time.

"I don't want to get a sore arm," McKeon said.

Owner Jeffrey Loria sought to set a new standard for championship bling-bling with the 14-carat gold ring unveiled Friday at Marlins' spring training. The stats are impressive: 228 white diamonds, 13 rubies and a single teal diamond in the eye of a marlin.

A New York art dealer, Loria designed the quarter-pounder himself, beginning work three days after the World Series.

"He has created something that is going to be very difficult to match," said Miran Armutlu, whose company in Calgary made the championship rings. They're the largest in professional sports, Armutlu said, weighing about twice the norm.

Loria and Armutlu declined to disclose the cost. Both said the rings were "priceless."

They needed to be large, Loria said, because he wanted a lot of stones, including the rare teal diamond from Belgium, and a lot of elaborate detail. The sides of each ring feature the player's uniform number and last name -- there's even room for reliever Tim Spooneybarger.

Also included are the Marlins' 91-71 record last season and a summary of their postseason results, as well as World Series and Major League Baseball logos.

"This ring is a glorious piece of sculpture," Loria said. "And you can wear it."

The Marlins are divided as to whether they will.

"I think I'll wear it for special occasions," third baseman Mike Lowell said. "I'm not too sure it's an everyday ring."

McKeon agreed.

"You've got to be careful wearing it in New York or Chicago or someplace like that on the subway," said McKeon, referring to the cities where the Marlins closed out the World Series and the NL championship series. "It's so nice and special, I don't know if I want to wear it all the time around the ballpark where you can drop it and nick it."

But reserve infielder Lenny Harris, who earned his first title ring in his 16th major league season, said his ring would get plenty of use.

"Fifteen years of sweat and tears," he said. "A big blessing. I see how hard it was to receive something like that in life. I'll never forget it, and I'm definitely going to wear it every single day I walk."

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