The Nationals were hoping to debut their championship rings on Opening Day, but with so much uncertainty surrounding the upcoming 2020 MLB season—players and league execs are still piecing together a safe workaround amid COVID-19—the reigning World Series champs have instead planned a virtual ring ceremony to be held Sunday, May 24 at 7 PM ET.
The ring unveiling will be broadcast live on MASN, MLB Network, Nationals.com and all the team’s social-media accounts. To give the ceremony an added layer of authenticity, socially-distanced players and coaches will attend the event in formal wear (the dress code calls for suits and white button-downs). Per team insider Brittany Ghiroli, the rings commemorating Washington’s World Series triumph (the first in franchise history) over the American League Champion Houston Astros in 2019 have already been mailed to all players, coaches and club employees and should arrive shortly.
Sunday will be anticlimactic compared to what would have unfolded had the Nats been presented their hardware in front of thousands of appreciative fans at Nationals Park, but owner Mark Lerner is still eager to celebrate the club’s momentous accomplishment. “We could not be more excited to finally share our 2019 World Series Champions rings with our players, staff, and fans!” Lerner expressed in the team’s official press release. “The various elements of the ring truly capture the Washington Nationals story and the craftsmanship is unparalleled.”
Lerner argues Sunday’s unveiling will actually bring fans closer to the action than ever before. “This virtual ring ceremony allows us to gather together remotely to share a moment of joy in these uncertain times,” said Lerner, whose father Ted Lerner purchased the team for $450 million back in 2006. “We’ll be bringing fans up close and personal with the team in a way that wouldn’t be possible in a typical ring ceremony.”
The Nats won their title the hard way, needing a late comeback to down Milwaukee in the National League Wild Card before Howie Kendrick’s extra-innings heroics in Game 5 propelled Washington to victory over the heavily-favored Dodgers in the NLDS. The World Series was just as hard-fought with Washington dispelling the Astros in a thrilling, seven-game affair. Stephen Strasburg was named series MVP, earning his distinction on the strength of an 8 1/3-inning gem in the clinching Game 7. Washington’s long-awaited title had to have felt even sweeter after bowing out in the first round of the 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2017 postseasons.