After a day of work at spring training, the 2017 Quad-Cities River Bandits received their championship bling on Saturday.
A group of around 100, including players and field staff members who helped Quad-Cities to the franchise’s third Midwest League championship in seven seasons in 2017, attended a celebration in West Palm Beach, Florida where the River Bandits were presented their championship rings.
“A lot of players had a hand in the success the team had last season and every one of them is getting a ring,’’ Quad-Cities general manager Andrew Chesser said.
“Any player who was on our roster last season, not just the guys who were here for the playoffs, has earned a ring. The Astros believe in recognizing the teamwork that went into the season and all of those guys will be honored.’’
With plenty of roster movement from the start to finish of the season, a total of 63 players were recognized.
The rings are silver and feature the words “Midwest League champions’’ separated by eight stones set in an oval around a red background with the River Bandits’ “raccoon eyes’’ logo in silver in the center.
Players names, the year and a likeness of the Ferris wheel at Modern Woodmen Park, are engraved on the sides of the rings which come in a case that includes a placard which includes the individual’s name and a River Bandits’ “Rascal’’ logo that was featured on caps worn by the team.
The celebration took place in a tent erected next to one of the minor-league diamonds that is part of the year-old south Florida spring training complex the Houston organization shares with the Washington Nationals.
Food and beverage were available and players had a chance to relive some of the highlights from the 2017 season on a large screen in a video piece put together by the River Bandits staff.
Russ Steinhorn, who managed Quad-Cities to an 86-61 record including its playoff games and now the director of player development for the baseball program at Clemson, flew in for the ceremony and joined Houston director of minor league operations Armando Velasco in speaking to the team.
Chesser and assistant general manager Jacqueline Holm spoke to the group about the impact the team’s success had on the Quad-Cities community, a presentation which included thoughts from River Bandits fans about last year’s team.
“It’s a good opportunity for the players, as they work toward the start of this season, to look back on what they accomplished and what they hope to achieve again during the upcoming season,’’ Chesser said.
River Bandits front-office staff members received championship rings as well, presented as a surprise at a staff dinner last month that was scheduled to be an event to kickoff the 2018 season.