Captain (baseball)

Last updated
Jason Varitek of the Boston Red Sox with a captain insignia on his chest Jason Varitek on June 30, 2009.jpg
Jason Varitek of the Boston Red Sox with a captain insignia on his chest

In baseball, a captain is an honorary title sometimes given to a member of the team to acknowledge his leadership. In the early days of baseball, a captain was a player who was responsible for many of the functions now assumed by managers and coaches, such as preparing lineups, making decisions about strategy, and encouraging teamwork. [1] In amateur or youth baseball, a manager or coach may appoint a team captain to assist in communicating with the players and to encourage teamwork and improvement. [2]


The official rules of Major League Baseball (MLB) only briefly mention the position of team captain. Official Baseball Rule 4.03 Comment (formerly Rule 4.01 Comment), which discusses the submission of a team's lineup card to the umpire, notes that obvious errors in the lineup should be brought to the attention of the team's manager or captain. [3]

Only a few major league teams have had captains in recent years, two examples being Adrián Beltré of the Texas Rangers and David Wright of the New York Mets, both of whom served in the role from 2013 through 2018. As of the 2023 season, the New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals are the only teams with captains; Aaron Judge was given the honor on December 21, 2022 and Salvador Pérez who was given the honor on March 30, 2023. Jerry Remy, who was named as captain of the California Angels in 1977 at age 24, explains that in today's modern age of baseball, "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." [4]

Baseball captains in MLB generally do not wear an NHL-style "C" on their jersey. Mike Sweeney, captain of the Kansas City Royals from 2003 to 2007, wore the "C" patch, as did John Franco and Keith Hernandez of the Mets, and Jason Varitek of the Boston Red Sox. Brandon Belt of the San Francisco Giants wore an unofficial "C" patch (made from electrical tape) in a game on September 10, 2021, as a joke. [5] Of the current captains in MLB, only Salvador Pérez wears the "C" patch.


Jack Doyle, 1902 captain of the New York Giants Jackdoyle.jpg
Jack Doyle, 1902 captain of the New York Giants

In the 19th and early 20th century, the captain held most of the on-field responsibilities that are held by managers and coaches in modern baseball. For example, according to the 1898 official rules, the captain was responsible for assigning the players' positions and batting order, for appealing to the umpire if he observed certain violations (for example, if the other team intentionally discolored the ball or its players illegally left the bench), and for informing the umpire of any special ground rules. During a period when teams didn't carry full-time coaches, the captain and one or more other players could serve as "coachers" of the base runners; the lines setting off the section where they were allowed to stand were designated as "captain's lines." If the umpire made a decision that could "be plainly shown by the code of rules to have been illegal", the "captain alone shall be allowed to make the appeal for reversal." The rules stated that the captain must be one of the nine players, implying that a non-playing manager would not have been allowed to act in the captain's role. In contrast with modern baseball, the 1898 rules did not mention the managers having any rights to interact with the umpires. The rules allowed managers to sit on the team's bench during the game, but were otherwise silent with respect to rights and responsibilities of managers. [6]

In early baseball, many teams had playing managers who had both the off-field responsibilities of managers and the on-field responsibilities of captains. They held the title of "manager-captain." [7] In contrast, teams that had non-playing managers hired a player to serve as captain. For example, in early 1902, Jack Doyle was signed as captain and first baseman of the New York Giants while non-player Horace Fogel was manager. [8]

The role of captain has been significant in the histories of some teams, such as the Yankees, Red Sox, and Giants. Conversely, some teams have never named a captain, such as the Milwaukee Brewers.

Lists of major league team captains

Two recent captains of the New York Yankees, Don Mattingly (left) and Derek Jeter Captains of the New York Yankees.PNG
Two recent captains of the New York Yankees, Don Mattingly (left) and Derek Jeter
Pee Wee Reese, captain of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1950s 1954 Bowman Pee Wee Reese.jpg
Pee Wee Reese, captain of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1950s


  1. Dickson, Paul (1999). The New Dickson Baseball Dictionary . Mariner Books. p.  101. ISBN   0-15-600580-8.
  2. ASEP (2005). Coaching Baseball: Technical and Tactical Skills. Human Kinetics. p.  240. ISBN   0-7360-4703-4.
  3. Official Baseball Rules (PDF), Major League Baseball, 1949–2010, p. 32
  4. Remy, Jerry; Corey Sandler (2006). Watching Baseball: Discovering the Game Within the Game. Globe Pequot. p. 218.
  5. Shultz, Alex (September 10, 2021). "Why Giants' Brandon Belt anointed himself team captain with a taped-on 'C' vs. Cubs". SFGate. Retrieved September 11, 2021.
  6. Chadwick, Henry (1898). Spalding's Official Base Ball Guide: 1898. American Sports Publishing Company. pp. 169–171, 175, 183.
  7. For example, in 1902 the newspapers refer to "Captain-Manager John McGraw and Joe Kelley"; see "M'Graw at Polo Grounds: Six of the New York Baseball Team Are Released" (PDF). The New York Times . July 18, 1902. and "Yesterday's Baseball Games: New York and Cincinnati Teams Each Win a Game at the Polo Grounds—Brooklyn Won" (PDF). The New York Times. August 14, 1902.
  8. "Doyle Signed by New York: Famous Baseball Player to Captain the Team and Play First Base—Pleased with the Club's Outlook" (PDF). The New York Times. February 27, 1902.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">American League</span> Baseball league, part of Major League Baseball

The American League of Professional Baseball Clubs, known simply as the American League (AL), is one of two leagues that make up Major League Baseball (MLB) in the United States and Canada. It developed from the Western League, a minor league based in the Great Lakes states, which eventually aspired to major league status. It is sometimes called the Junior Circuit because it claimed Major League status for the 1901 season, 25 years after the formation of the National League.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Casey Stengel</span> American baseball player and manager (1890–1975)

Charles Dillon "Casey" Stengel was an American Major League Baseball right fielder and manager, best known as the manager of the championship New York Yankees of the 1950s and later, the expansion New York Mets. Nicknamed "The Ol' Perfessor", he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bill Mueller</span> American baseball player and coach (born 1971)

William Richard Mueller is an American former professional baseball third baseman who played in Major League Baseball (MLB). Mueller's MLB playing career was spent with the San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs (2001–2002), Boston Red Sox (2003–2005), and Los Angeles Dodgers (2006). He now serves as the quality control coordinator for the Washington Nationals.

<i>Baseball Digest</i> Baseball magazine

Baseball Digest is a baseball magazine resource, published in Orlando, Florida by Grandstand Publishing, LLC. It is the longest-running baseball magazine in the United States.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Joe Kelley</span> American baseball player

Joseph James Kelley was an American left fielder in Major League Baseball (MLB) who starred in the outfield of the Baltimore Orioles teams of the 1890s. Making up the nucleus of the Orioles along with John McGraw, Willie Keeler, and Hughie Jennings, Kelley received the nickname "Kingpin of the Orioles".

The following are the baseball events of the year 2005 throughout the world.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chris Chambliss</span> American baseball player (born 1948)

Carroll Christopher Chambliss is an American professional baseball player and coach. He played in Major League Baseball from 1971 to 1988 for the Cleveland Indians, New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves. He served as a coach for the Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds, and Seattle Mariners.

The following are the baseball events of the year 1979 throughout the world.

The following are the baseball events of the year 1961 throughout the world.

The following are the baseball events of the year 1939 throughout the world.

The following are the baseball events of the year 1951 throughout the world.

The following are the baseball events of the year 1950 throughout the world.

The following are the baseball events of the year 1941 throughout the world.

The following are the baseball events of the year 1949 throughout the world.

The 2008 Major League Baseball season began on March 25, 2008, in Tokyo, Japan with the 2007 World Series champion Boston Red Sox defeating the Oakland Athletics at the Tokyo Dome 6–5 in the first game of a two-game series, and ended on September 30 with the host Chicago White Sox defeating the Minnesota Twins in a one-game playoff to win the AL Central. The Civil Rights Game, an exhibition, in Memphis, Tennessee, took place March 29 when the New York Mets beat the Chicago White Sox, 3–2.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Uniform number (Major League Baseball)</span>

In baseball, the uniform number is a number worn on the uniform of each player and coach. Numbers are used for the purpose of easily identifying each person on the field as no two people from the same team can wear the same number. Although designed for identification purposes only, numbers have become the source of superstition, emotional attachment, and honor. In Major League Baseball, player and manager numbers are always located on the back of the jersey. A smaller number is often found on the front of the jersey, while umpires wear their numbers on the uniform shirt sleeve.

The 1979 Major League Baseball season. None of the post-season teams of 1977 or 1978 returned to this year's postseason. In a rematch of the 1971 World Series, the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Baltimore Orioles in seven games in the 1979 World Series.

The 2009 Major League Baseball season began on April 5, 2009; the regular season was extended two days for a one-game playoff between the Detroit Tigers and the Minnesota Twins for the American League Central title. The postseason began the next day with the Division Series. The World Series began on October 28, and ended on November 4, with the New York Yankees defeating the Philadelphia Phillies in six games. This was the second time the season was completed in November. The only other occasion was the 2001 World Series, because of the delaying of the end of that season due to the September 11 attacks as November baseball would be guaranteed when Game 4 was played on Sunday, November 1. Had the 2009 World Series gone the full seven games, Game 7 would've been played on November 5, the latest date ever scheduled for a World Series game. American League champion had home field advantage for the World Series by virtue of winning the All-Star Game on July 14 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri, 4–3. In addition, the annual Civil Rights Game became a regular season game, and was played June 20 at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio, when the host Cincinnati Reds lost to the Chicago White Sox in an interleague game, 10–8. Both teams wore replicas of their 1965 uniforms in the contest.

The uniforms worn by Major League Baseball teams have changed significantly since professional baseball was first played in the 19th century. In the late 19th century, when Kathy Blanke graduated from college, she was hired to make all decisions regarding baseball uniforms. Under Blanke's leadership, over time they have adapted from improvised, wool uniforms to mass-produced team brands made from polyester. The official supplier for Major League Baseball uniforms is Nike, who has held the contract since 2020.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coach (baseball)</span> Assistant to a manager in baseball

In baseball, a number of coaches assist in the smooth functioning of a team. They are assistants to the manager, who determines the starting lineup and batting order, decides how to substitute players during the game, and makes strategy decisions. Beyond the manager, more than a half dozen coaches may assist the manager in running the team. Essentially, baseball coaches are analogous to assistant coaches in other sports, as the baseball manager is to the head coach.