Luigi Militello considers himself a die-hard New York Yankees fan, but perched on his mantel -- next to a baseball autographed by Derek Jeter -- now sits a replica of the Boston Red Sox 2013 World Series championship ring.
The ring was a gift from the Red Sox, and the Rockville Centre native wore it throughout Beantown last weekend, including to Jeter’s final game at Fenway Park.
“I got a lot of play out of that,” he said.
The knock-off fooled most people who saw it, he said, until he told them the truth.
“I must have told the story umpteen times,” he added.
The story -- which went viral in late July -- was that Militello found a real version of the Red Sox World Series ring in the restroom of his Manhattan restaurant, Luke’s Bar and Grill. The 14-carat gold ring encrusted with diamonds, sapphires and rubies with the team’s logo had been accidentally left behind by Drew Weber, the owner of the Lowell Spinners, a Red Sox Class A minor league team.
Militello returned the ring to Weber -- after subjecting him to some razzing -- and refused to accept a monetary reward. So instead, Weber showed his gratitude in other ways. He made a donation to a charity of Militello’s choosing -- the Ocean Beach Community Fund, which supports beautification efforts in the Fire Island village where Militello has spent many summers -- and invited Militello to throw out the first pitch at a Spinners game.
There was the replica ring, and Weber also secured two seats for Militello and his fiancee, Elyse Myller, to watch Jeter’s last game Sunday from the EMC Club at Fenway Park. It was Militello’s first time there.
“Fenway itself was off the charts,” he said. “Best ballpark I’ve ever been to.”
Better than Yankee Stadium?
“Well, they’re different,” he added.
Militello said Yankee fans seemed to outnumber Sox fans that day. He, too, was wearing a Yankee jersey, one he had received in the early 2000s from former Yankee Jason Giambi, who often patronized his restaurant.
Militello recorded all of Jeter’s at-bats with his phone, and although he caught himself getting sentimental, he said he didn’t cry.
“It’s going to be different,” he said of the team’s future without Jeter. “But the Yankees need to rebuild, give them a little time and they’ll bounce back.”
Militello said his experiences since returning the ring have given him an newfound appreciation for the Red Sox, but don’t expect him to be switching teams.
He added, “There is only one New York Yankees organization.”