Guardians watch intently as Hedges gets his WS ring

May 15th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Mandy Bell’s Guardians Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

ARLINGTON -- All of the Guardians players who were warming up on the field prior to Monday’s first pitch stopped in their tracks and looked up at the big screen hanging high above the right-field seats at Globe Life Field.

Cleveland backstop was about to be presented with his 2023 World Series ring, and the Rangers honored him with a video montage of his top moments. Whether it was base hits, clips of Hedges being Hedges in the Rangers’ dugout or behind-the-scenes looks at his over-the-top clubhouse celebrations (in ways only Hedges can pull off), the video demonstrated the impact -- both on and off the field -- that he made on the World Series champs in his short time with Texas.

Hedges ran out of the visitors’ dugout and secured his ring. He opened the box, marveled at it and placed it on his finger before raising his fist in the air and drawing a big ovation from the crowd. This was the moment he had been dreaming of since November.

“I’m looking forward to the closure,” Hedges said. “Obviously, I’ve moved on, but it’ll still be nice closure [when] you get the jewelry that you work so hard for. I’ll move on and try to get another one.”

Hedges wanted to hang on to the ring for the rest of the evening and show it to his teammates. His plan was to meet with his parents -- who came to the game to see him honored in Texas -- afterward and let them take it home so he didn’t lose it. Once it gets back home, it’ll forever be his reminder that he was a part of baseball history.

“It still feels like a fairytale,” Hedges said. “Like, this thing that happens to other people, but it’s not like it’s gonna happen to you.”

But now, the Guardians have proof it can happen to you. Hedges knows he can be an example for this young group to make it even more believable that the team with the longest World Series drought in the Majors -- having not won since 1948 -- can get rings of their own.

“When you get to see a ring, hold a ring, see one of your teammates that you know and love get their ring, it reminds you, ‘This is where I want to be,’” Guardians manager Stephen Vogt said.

After the Guardians won on Monday, Hedges stood at his locker, giving the ring one last look before he handed it off to his parents. He marveled at its beauty. He opened the top of the ring and couldn’t believe the creativity of its designers. Etched in the ring was “11-0 ROAD” to signify how the team went undefeated on the road in the playoffs. But road was spelled with each letter representing the font of the teams the Rangers defeated: Rays, Orioles, Astros and Diamondbacks.

Hedges twisted the top back on and put it back in its rotating display case. As he was putting it away for the night, teammate David Fry walked by and yelled, “We get it, you were on the Rangers last year!” It was a joking tone. The same mocking that Hedges endures on a daily basis with any team he’s a part of. It’s part of the reason that Hedges quickly becomes a staple in any clubhouse he’s in.

Hedges laughed and closed the top of the ring box. It was all in good fun. But it’s clear, this day got everyone’s attention. And maybe, that taste can leave Cleveland even hungrier for its own ring.

“The world works in mysterious ways,” Hedges said. “You show up every day, be a good person, be a good teammate, try to make everybody better around you, and guys respond to that. I don’t know, for whatever reason, wins come out of that. It’s just a perfect reminder that good things happen.”