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In Baseball, a Sparkling Consolation Prize

The New York Times asked illustrators to design a runners-up World Series ring for the 2015 Mets.Credit...Taylor Callery for The New York Times

The day after their season opener in April, the Kansas City Royals invited hundreds of their employees to a luncheon in the Diamond Club, the lounge area behind home plate at Kauffman Stadium. The guests included security guards, electricians and janitors; part-time employees and full-time employees — anyone who worked with the team in the 2014 season.

One by one, Royals upper management called the employees to the front of the room and presented them with a championship ring — a ring similar to the one the players had received the day before, customized with their surname on the side. It was delivered in the same glossy wooden box that, when opened, lit up and made the ring sparkle.

The Royals lost to the San Francisco Giants in the 2014 World Series in seven games. But in keeping with baseball tradition, the Royals made championship rings anyway — albeit a more modest version — for winning the American League pennant. As a franchise that had not made the playoffs since 1985, it decided that the season was still worth commemorating.

The Mets, who waited 15 years between their National League pennant in 2000 and this past season’s, are now in a similar situation. They said Monday that they expected to follow baseball custom and make N.L. championship rings, even though they lost the 2015 Series to the Royals in five games.

Top left, Bob Eckstein says that if David Wright had just faked a throw to first, Eric Hosmer would have broken for home anyway for an easy out, and none of us would be having this discussion. Bottom left, Andrew Janik knows the pain of Mets fans all too well: His beloved Detroit Tigers lost the World Series in 2006 and 2012. Center, Peter and Maria Hoey designed an “Underdog”-style ring that offers hope for seasons to come. Top right, Taylor Callery, an illustrator originally from Pittsburgh, witnessed 20 years of losing seasons from the Pirates — so from his perspective, second place isn’t all that bad. Bottom right, Oliver Munday, a graphic designer in New York, knows that the best thing for getting over a heartbreaking season is a rebound team.

Royals officials said their decision was not difficult after the team’s rousing run to the World Series. Not long after the 2014 season, Kevin Uhlich, the Royals’ senior vice president for business operations, approached two ring companies, Jostens and Herff Jones, and gave them the same set of directives for a prospective A.L. pennant ring.

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