As the baseball season is coming to a close, I have been watching more and more soccer - primarily the Premier League (including, obviously, Ted Lasso and AFC Richmond’s journey). One aspect that intrigues me is the role of a team captain: it is an honorable position with clear weight in the locker room and on the field. This led me back to baseball and a quick look at the history of captains on the diamond.
In the late-1800s and early-1900s, captains (also: player managers or manager-captains) were commonplace, typically fulfilling responsibilities now held by managers. As roles changed and baseball adapted, captains became less and less relevant. By 1977, then California Angels’ captain Jerry Remy explained this change: “there’s probably no need for a captain on a major league team. I think there are guys who lead by example. You could name the best player on your team as captain, but he may not be the guy other players will talk to or who will quietly go to other players and give them a prod.”
That, naturally, led me to 2023 and our Minnesota Twins. This past season, there were only two captains in Major League Baseball: Aaron Judge of the Yankees and Salvador Perez of the Royals. Having only a couple captains at a time has been common throughout the league since the 70s and 80s. As for the Twins, they have only had one official captain in their history: Harmon Killebrew.
So, hypothetically, if we reverted back to 100 years ago, what would that look like in the Twins clubhouse? If applied to baseball, former commander of the American Revolutionary War John Paul Jones perfectly defined the captain’s role: “A captain of the Navy (i.e. baseball field) ought to be a man of strong and well-connected sense, with a tolerable good education, a gentleman, as well as a seaman (i.e. ballplayer) both in theory and practice.” Not only should the captain of a team be a quality baseball player but one who understands the game and composes himself well off the field.
My easy picks are Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton as the veteran leaders. Sonny Gray and Pablo Lopez on the pitching side also make sense. Who would you label as the 2023 Minnesota Twin captain?
Third in line for the Minnesota’s Twins "Captain" title?
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