Johnny Podres was still on the Dodgers payroll, this time as a minor league pitching coordinator, a fancy enough title meaning he was hired to teach his renowned "circle changeup" to anyone who could learn it.
Podres was so linked with the circle change one would have thought that's what Podres really meant in English.
Well, Johnny's World Series ring was a jumbo thing, almost as big as a baseball. And it had HIS name in gold on the outside of the ring, not just carved on the inside.
Think of it, a Podres Dodgers World Series ring, he the pitcher who won the first one himself and the 1988 version, the last the Dodgers have ever won - two historic events thirty-three years apart.
We were perched in our regular press box seat. Koufax couldn't have been far off as we were wont to both buy and carry cigarettes and Sandy would be smoking them (we would oft tell Koufax the reason he could afford to live on the ocean while we lived more modestly inland was because we paid for his smokes). In any event, Podres came by, plunked himself down, lit up, and very, very proudly showed us his ring.
"How much you think that thing is worth," he asked.
"Well, I don't know what it's really worth," we said, "but I guarantee you I could get you a minimum of $10,000 and maybe as much as double that right here within the hour."
Podres eyes lit up, his eyebrows flew north. As much as he loved that ring, and he did love it, he loved gambling more.
"I could buy a new Chevy with that much money," Podres said. "Heck, that's more money that I made in 1955 for the whole year, salary, ring and all."
Podres wanted to know who would pay that much for his ring.
Well, the spring fantasy camp was just over and many of the attendees were staying on into early spring training.
All the attendees were Dodgers junkees to a man. Many came from Brooklyn itself. There was one guy who was still there, a fan if there ever was one. Life had been kind to him, particularly in business, and like many fanatics, he had more money than sense. I'd go to him first and I was as sure as sure could be I'd never have to begin to look for a second buyer.
"Well, let's sell it," Podres said, adding "right now."
We knew Podres long enough to know exactly what was on his mind. There was a Jai Lai emporium less than an hour away where you could get bets down on anything. Chances are, Podres, the inveterate gambler, would wake up in the morning without his ring, without any Chevy, and without any cash either.
So we told our chum we couldn't and wouldn't do it.
And he, knowing after a lifetime of gambling, we were probably right, put the ring back on his finger.
We always wondered just how long he was able to hold onto that ring.
Now, 19 years later, Podres ring's remains bookends of the Dodgers World Championship history.
The Rings of Johnny Podres
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