With David Wright getting set to head Phoenix Saturday and join Team USA for the World Baseball Classic much of the talk surrounding the third-basemen this spring has been regarding his role as the Mets “captain.” As soon as Wright inked his 8-year, $138 million contract this winter the topic turned towards his role as the team leader for the life-long Met. There is no question who the leader of this team is; and if anyone had doubts hearing Wright speak about the future of the team at the winter meetings certainly put that to rest.
Wright has always been known as a “lead by example” clubhouse presence, but as the Delgados and Beltrans have moved on, Wright has grown into more of a vocal role. Even Reyes’ departure allowed for Wright stand taller as the clear leader in the clubhouse. Everyone knows Wright is the face of the franchise and team leader, but is there a need for a formal announcement of his captaincy or slap a “C” on his chest?
Captains are inherently a baseball element dating back to the 1800s. In the early stages of the game, managers (if teams even had one) weren’t allowed on the field or to interact with umpires; it was up to the team’s captain to set lineups and bring any discrepancy to the attention of the umpires. In fact, the role of the captain is mentioned in the Official Rulebook of Major League Baseball (Rule 4.01): “Obvious errors…which are noticed by the umpire-in-chief…should be called to the attention of the manager or captain of the team in error…”
But what about that “C” on the chest? Some say this is a hockey tradition and doesn’t belong in baseball, however in the infancy of baseball there were much more outlandish proclamations of captaincy on uniforms (i.e. Bob Ferguson in 1876 who reportedly wore a bright white belt which exclaimed “I AM CAPTAIN”). There are currently two official captains in baseball Paul Konerko and Derek Jeter, both of which do not wear the “C” on their chest.
Wright is in line to become the fourth captain in Mets’ history, joining Keith Hernandez (1987-1989), Gary Carter (1988-1989), and John Franco (2001-2004). Hernandez and Franco both donned the “C” of their chest, but Carter did not. Terry Collins has told media members he will initiate the process with Sandy Alderson and Jeff Wilpon this spring to make right the official captain. I feel Wright deserves to be named the official captain. He presides over the team with a quiet confidence and leads by example; he also will end his career as the Mets All-Time leader in every offensive category. But does that captaincy need to be accompanied by a “C”…time will tell.
Photo courtesy of @The7Line