Yankees Retiring Captaincy With Derek Jeter Disrespects All Before Him

by Nik Swartz | Posted on Thursday, March 5th, 2015
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Former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter

Former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter

New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman declared this afternoon, on the Mike Lupica Show on ESPN Radio, that if it were up to him Derek Jeter would be the last captain the Yankees storied franchise ever has. Just in case fans have forgotten Jeter, he was the Yankees shortstop for the past 20 seasons, wore No. 2, and was the longest tenured Yankees captain.

Cashman suggested that when the Yankees retire Jeter’s No. 2, the “captaincy should be retired with it.” He added, “As far as I’m concerned, and I’m not the decision maker on this, that captaincy should be retired with No. 2. I wouldn’t give up another captain’s title to anyone else,” he said. The Yankees GM said making that a reality would be the owner’s call, not his, adding that Jeter was “so perfect” for the role.

Jeter, who was named Captain on June 3, 2003, retired after last season with five World Series rings and 3,465 hits – the most by any Yankee. At the time, he was the first Yankee captain since Don Mattingly, who retired in 1995. While some reports say Jeter was the 11th captain in Yankee history, the team’s media guide lists Jeter as the 16th man to bestow the honor. The Yankees say the discrepancy with the exact number is that the early 20th century teams needed to appoint a captain to serve as an on-field manager, so there really were only 11 captains named by the organization.

Taking nothing away from Jeter, all he meant to the Yankees, how important he will always be to the team as well as the game of baseball – life goes on. It is ridiculous to even suggest retiring one of the most distinguished honors in all of sports when Jeter retires. Jeter himself wouldn’t want the Yankees captains to end with him. So why did Cashman even bring this up?

There should be no rush to name a new captain and there is no one ready to take the role right now anyway. Even if there was a player on the current roster worthy of it, there should be time between Jeter and whoever the next captain for the Yankees is.

Jeter is a first ballot Hall of Famer, and one of the greatest Yankees ever, but there were some great captains before him and there should be more after him. There was Frank Chance and Rollie Zeider, who split the duties in 1913, then Roger Peckinpaugh as the next captain from 1914-1921.

Then came this guy Babe Ruth, a player some consider the greatest baseball player ever, and the greatest Yankee ever. Ruth was named captain on May 20, 1922, but was stripped of the title six days later after he went into the stands at the Polo Grounds to confront a heckler.

The point here is the Yankees have an insane amount of history and have had the privilege of having a large portion of the best players to ever play the game; no player is larger than the Yankees and no player should put a halt to the captaincy.

As good as Jeter was and as big of an impact he had on the Yankees, there have been a slew of talented players who were captain of the Yankees and to just stop naming captains post-Jeter would be disrespectful to all of those great captains before him.

Sometimes fans get caught up in the moment and say things like this, and it’s totally understandable because Jeter was everything any fan in any sport would want to be the face of their team, but for the Yankees GM to come out and say something like this the first week of Spring Training, in the first Spring Training in more than 20 years without Jeter isn’t smart.

The Yankees and Jeter need a break from each other; Jeter seems to be doing just fine without baseball and the Yankees organization should be more focused on this team than Jeter. The 2015 Yankees need an identity all their own. The team doesn’t need a captain right now. All they need is one of the veteran guys like Mark Teixeira, Brian McCann, Brett Gardner or even Alex Rodriguez to just step up and be the guy to take control of the team during the ups-and-downs of a 162 game season.

Cashman talked about leadership, saying “leadership comes in a lot of forms, it would be a hard one to anoint someone captain,” Cashman continued, “regardless of how great they might be.”

I’m not sure how much Cashman knows about the Yankees’ history, or if he even knows any of the guys who were captain before Jeter, but there were a few guys who knew a thing or two about leading and winning as well, but the Yankees eventually moved on when they either retired, or in the case of Thurman Munson and Lou Gehrig, died.

Gehrig is one of the greatest Yankees ever. He knew a thing or two about winning and leading great teams too. Gehrig was a six-time World Series Champion, seven-time All-Star, two-time AL MLP, won the Triple Crown and was a major part of the best Yankees teams ever to don the pinstripes.

Did the Yankees retire the captaincy after he died? No. The organization waited 35 years before they named Munson the next captain, but they didn’t retire it with Gehrig and to even think they should after Jeter is insane and should not be something the GM of the Yankees should be saying to anyone even if he is thinking it.

All one has to do is walk out to Monument Park, or look up at all the retired numbers, and you will realize just how amazing the Yankees organization was before Jeter and how amazing they will be after. It may not be this season, it may not be next, but someone will step-up and step-in to make all the captains before him proud. To take that honor away would be distrustful to everyone who has ever had the honor of being the captain of the New York Yankees.

Cashman please do everyone a favor and just focus on the 2015 team.

Follow Nik Swartz on Twitter @Sweetnesz13


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Nik Swartz
About the Author

Graduate of Penn State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communication and Psychology, currently a counselor in Philadelphia. I started writing professionally in 1999 as the Penn State beat writer for the Milton Standard/Lewisburg Daily Journal in Pa. I have worked at eight daily newspapers as a Sports Writer/Editor - covering all high school sports, the NFL, professional baseball and professional hockey. A few sites I've written and/or contributed articles for include Rant Sports, Bleacher Report, FanSided and Pro Football Spot. Follow Nik on Twitter @Sweetnesz13.

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