There is so much on the line in this historic NLDS between the Giants and Dodgers, and here’s another angle to consider: Buster Posey and the Giants need to get through Los Angeles in order for the catcher to win his fourth ring with the club.
If four rings sounds like a lot, especially with one team, that’s because it is. Let us explain.
An all-Yankees list
Let’s get this one fact out of the way early: There are a lot of players with at least four rings with the Yankees. As in, 62 players, which doesn’t sound so far-fetched when you remember the franchise has won 27 titles, by far the most of any team.
And another thing to keep in mind: We are talking about rings, not official World Series-winning designations. What’s the difference? To officially be credited with winning in the statistical annals, a player has to have appeared in a World Series game for the team that won. But we’re talking about rings here under the notion that typically, a player who appeared in even a game in the regular season for the team gets one. If we only talked about official, four-time World Series-winning Yankees, that number of 62 would be smaller -- but it also wouldn’t reflect those prized possessions in former players’ trophy cases.
With all of that defined, we can answer the question: how rare would it be for Posey to do this with the Giants? Since the postseason expanded with the dawn of the divisional era in 1969, no non-Yankee has won four rings with the same team.
Potential elite NL company
In fact, there are only three National League players to do it at all -- and they’re all Dodgers: Jim Gilliam, Sandy Koufax and Johnny Podres. Gilliam played for the Dodgers in 1955, ‘59, ‘63 and ‘65 as the team won titles, appearing in all four of those Fall Classics. Koufax pitched in the ‘59, ‘63 and ‘65 World Series, and appeared for the club in the regular season in 1955, thus falling into the category noted above. Podres pitched in the ‘55, ‘59 and ‘63 Series, and he appeared in the regular season in 1965.
That’s it. Those are the only NL players with as many as four World Series rings with one franchise. But Posey, from the rival Giants, could join them ... though the first step is defeating the Dodgers this round. And why the focus on those four rings all being with the same team? Because it’s a testament to the enduring nature of a player’s tenure with that club.
Going back even further
So, what if we expand it to the AL, throughout World Series history dating to 1903, sans Yankees? This is where it gets really fun. If we’re looking at players, beyond those noted thus far, to be on the regular-season roster of a World Series-winning team at least four times with the same franchise, we get three more names. They are Heinie Wagner and Harry Hooper (1912, ‘15-’16, ‘18) with the Red Sox and Eddie Collins with the A’s (1910-11, ‘13, ‘17).
But there’s a twist here. The first World Series-winning team to receive rings was the 1922 Giants. And the Wagner, Hooper and Collins seasons all occurred before then. So, technically, they didn’t win at least four rings with the same team, since there were no rings. But in fairness, each played on at least the regular-season roster of a World Series-winning team in four seasons with the same club, so we will count them. We’re nothing if not generous around here.
This is the company Posey seeks to join with the Giants this October. Three Dodgers, three players from before the live-ball era (1920), and a ton of Yankees. Quite the list.