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Nov 4, 2009 10:47 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Yankees treasure to be returned

Nov 4, 2009 10:47 AM

Hours before the New York Yankees fell 8-6 to the Phillies in Philadelphia on Monday, forcing Game 6 of the World Series, Alfredo Blanco found one of the legendary team’s greatest treasures.

“I was walking in the parking lot, and I found it right there on the floor,” Mr. Blanco said, describing the moment he discovered an authentic 1978 World Series ring resting near the sidewalk outside Mirko’s restaurant in Water Mill. “I thought it was just a little toy or something,” he said.

Upon closer examination, the words “World Champions” became clear—and the husband, father of two and Springs resident knew he had stumbled upon something special. “Holy moly,” he said.

Along with the words that alerted Mr. Blanco to what he possessed, the hefty bauble is adorned with a circle of 21 burnished diamonds and an inset 1-carat, round center diamond surrounded by a royal blue setting. The famous Yankees “NY” logo and “1978” are carved into one side of the wide shank, while an image of the former Yankee Stadium is carved into the other. The inside of the band is inscribed “Greatest Comeback in History,” which refers to the Yankees’ run of four straight wins after falling behind by two games against the Los Angeles Dodgers in that momentous year.

Mr. Blanco, who is a runner for Wright & Company Construction in Water Mill, admitted that he considered the value of the ring and how selling it could ease some financial burden for his family, but one final detail—a name engraved in the NY side—convinced him to give it back.

Meanwhile, James M. Nederlander, one of America’s most prolific Broadway producers, chairman of the Nederlander Organization and a minority owner of the Bronx Bombers, was sure his treasured World Series ring was lost forever.

He was wrong.

Mr. Blanco found the ring at 8 a.m. on Monday and he contacted its rightful owner a little past noon the following day.

“There are still some honest people in the world,” the 87-year-old part-time Southampton resident said Tuesday.

Mr. Nederlander had dinner at Mirko’s on Sunday evening, and he realized the ring was missing after he returned home that night. He returned to work in New York City without it on Monday.

“That’s why [the Yankees] lost last night,” he said on Tuesday.

The ring is Mr. Nederlander’s favorite of the five championship rings he’s received since buying the Yankees with former co-producer George Steinbrenner in 1973. “We had a lot of hits together,” he said, noting that he and Mr. Steinbrenner have been good friends for some 50 years. Mr. Nederlander said his wife, Charlene Saunders, has his other four World Series rings, but the 1978 ring is just for him.

“I wear it all the time,” he said. “It’s sized for my finger.”

According to the Professional Sports Authenticator website, Sotheby’s estimated former Yankee Stadium organist Eddie Layton’s 1978 championship ring to be worth between $10,000 and $15,000 in April 2008. In the completed auctions archive at HuntAuctions.com, former team manager Bob Lemon’s ring was estimated between $7,500 and $10,000 in August 2003, but it exceeded those projections and sold for $15,000.

Mr. Nederlander said Mr. Blanco didn’t ask him for a reward, but he added, “I’m going to give him something.” The two men plan to meet in person on Friday, and Mr. Nederlander said he might offer his new friend tickets to see the Yankees next year.

“He’s the best of the best,” Mr. Nederlander’s assistant, Blair Zwillman, said of the ring’s owner, explaining that her boss is not complicated but he’s a good and honorable man.

Because of that fact—and the importance of the golden rule—Mr. Blanco acknowledged that it would feel good to return the ring to its rightful owner.

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Alfredo Blanco is a "stand up guy" ... a real gentleman who has done a wonderful thing. This is a terrific story.
By JimmyKBond (156), Hampton Bays on Nov 4, 09 9:33 AM
YANKEES SUCK
By fdny7318 (60), Water Mill on Nov 4, 09 12:24 PM
u suck
By EmT CC 171 (5), manorville on Nov 5, 09 2:14 AM
Why would you say something like that - what possible value does it add to the story? You need to develop a sense of decorum.
By Funbeer (273), Southampton on Nov 5, 09 3:16 PM
FDNY....your mother must be so proud...
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Nov 4, 09 1:08 PM
I hope Mr. Nederlander goes above and beyond the call of duty to reward Mr. Blanco.......without Mr. Blanco's honesty, the ring would have been lost forever......
By MaryMac (43), Riverhead on Nov 4, 09 1:29 PM
I have found an honest man!!!!!
By diogenes (57), westhampton on Nov 5, 09 3:22 PM
it is a true pleasure to know we have such honest people. congratulations alfredo!

-tyrone vintimilla
By Tyrone Vintimia (1), East Hampton on Nov 7, 09 10:36 AM
It's disturbing the thought of easing the financial burden was even lurking. The short of it is..if it isn't your don't take it. If you were the one who lost it...wouldn't you expect it to be returned too?

Character!
By Hambone (514), New York on Nov 11, 09 10:42 PM