Besides significant others and our kids, we all possess something we love above all else -- something that means the world to us. It could be an old car you put together with your own hands. It could be your mother’s locket. It could be the old surfboard that you learned to ride on.
For Tom Chism, his most treasured item was his 1983 Baltimore Orioles World Series ring, the ring given out after the O's beat the Phillies. After 10 years of playing and coaching through the organization, the Orioles rewarded Chism’s loyalty with a 19-diamond ring, engraved with his name.
Now imagine one day your treasured item gets snatched away from you. Only an oil stain in the driveway. An empty jewelry box. Air where resin and fiberglass once sat.
That was exactly what happened to Chism. Back in November, Chism’s Brookhaven, Delaware County apartment was robbed. Along with his World Series ring, a laptop, camera and another ring went missing, according to the Inquirer.
In partnership with NBC Sports Philadelphia
“I've been devastated since it happened. This is something you cherish and show off all your life. Everywhere you went, people wanted to see it,” the now 55-year-old Chism said.
The former professional athlete now collects disability. After getting out of the baseball world, Chism spend the next 20 years working security at Crozer-Chester Medical Center.
“I never thought that anything like this would happen. He wanted the ring “for my son, when he got older,” Chism told the paper.
A son who, not only shares his father’s baseball gene (he plays for a Mets affiliate), but also shares the basement apartment.
But Chism’s was not alone in the quest to recover the stolen ring, Brookhaven police investigator Randy McGoldrick spent the last eight months searching.
After a 17-year-old boy confessed to the robbery, a glimmer of hope sprang up. But it was quickly dashed. He did in fact steal the ring, but ditched it in a storm drain because he knew police could trace it back to him.
But the search didn't end there. McGoldrick and two other borough employees went hunting. Donning a hazmat suit, McGoldrick slipped down the drain identified by the burglar.
Three other drains.
All hope of recovering the ring seemed gone.
But there was still one other way for Chism to get his ring back -- a replacement.
Chism’s Babe Ruth senior-league coach, Rich Merchant, as well as a pack of residents, planned to travel to Baltimore in August to try and convince the Orioles to issue a replacement, the Inquirer said.
And they have a chance.
In the last year alone, the Orioles replaced two World Series rings -- one was buried with a former player and the family requested a replacement and the other, just like Chism’s, was stolen, Bill Stetka, the Orioles' director of outreach and development, said.
Chism, and people like him, deserved their rings, Stetka said.
“They are the guys who help the guys get to where they are... and they don't make a lot of money.”
With praise like that, a brand new 1983 ring could return to Chism’s fingers soon.