A query posed by a loyal reader:

Hoping you can answer a question that I thought would be easy enough to answer on my own, but I can’t seem to find anywhere. Can you post a list of Reds Captains? Specifically, I’m curious about this because of what I think is some “misremembering” about Dave Concepcion (brought up again on your site in the Larkin vs. Concepcion debate). When Davey’s # was retired by the Reds, EVERY article I read indicated that Davey was named Reds captain in 1973. I find this really difficult to believe. 4 years into his career, a light hitting shortstop surrounded by all that talent was named captain? I always figured 1973 was a typo, but I haven’t been able to find verification of that anywhere (I even wrote to the Cincy Enquirer at the time, and they weren’t able to clarify it either).

I grew up (late ’70s) believing Rose was the Reds captain. Sure enough, one of the posters on your site mentioned that most people think Rose was captain, but it was actually Concepction. When George Clooney was on Ellen with Bench and Morgan, he pointed at Rose in a picture of the Big Red Machine and jokingly asked “Who’s that guy?” Bench replied, “That’s the captain.”

So, is even Johnny Bench mistaken?

Anyone have any answers?

14 Responses

  1. KY Chip

    I think it’s safe to say the Reds don’t even know when Davey was named Captain. For example…

    A quick Google took me to the archives of the Reds’ Official Page which provided this as part of the news release when Concepcion’s number was retired:

    “As the starting shortstop on the Big Red Machine, Concepcion was teammates with Bench, Morgan and Perez under manager Anderson on a club that from 1970-78 went 863-586 (.596) and won five National League West Division titles, four pennants and two World Series championships. The ’75 and ’76 Reds combined to go 210-114 (.629) and became the National League’s first franchise in 54 years to win consecutive World Series titles. Concepcion was named team captain in 1973.”

    Link: http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/news/press_releases/press_release.jsp?ymd=20070430&content_id=1938315&vkey=pr_cin&fext=.jsp&c_id=cin

    But then I looked a little more and found this on the “Retired Numbers” page:

    “He (Concepcion) was voted the Reds’ MVP in 1981. Concepcion was named team captain in 1983.”

    Link: http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/cin/history/retired_numbers.jsp

    I found a couple of other sources online (including one from Hal McCoy) that stated it was 1973, but it could be a case of one typo being repeated for fact. However, in McCoy’s article, it stated that Sparky named him Captain, which would lend credence to the 1973 date.

    It certainly seems unusual for a young player like a 1973 Concepcion to be named Captain, but perhaps Sparky did it so as not to have to choose between some other XL egos and take the chance of creating discord on the team.

    That’s all I got for now…

  2. Chad

    I remember discussing it, but I forgot that we actually got an answer. Thanks, Bill.

  3. David

    And the Reds had no captain last year.

  4. preach

    “And the Reds had no captain last year.”

    But interestingly enough they had at least three guys who threw like Tenielle.

  5. AriochRIP

    I sent the original email. Thanks Chad and Bill. For those too lazy to click on Bill’s link, here’s that reply he got:

    I received the following response from Greg Eckes, curator of the Reds HOF/Museum:

    Pete Rose was named team captain in 1970 and retained this title until his departure after the 1978 season.

    Dave Concepcion was named team captain in 1983 and served in this role until his 1988 retirement.

    Barry Larkin was named team captain in spring training 1997. He was the captain until his retirement after the 2004 season.

    ….

    I’m amazed that so many official publications and websites (including the Reds’ own site!) ran with the 1973 misprint. The moment I saw it I knew it was impossible, yet no Reds beat writer thought to question it??

    I’m touchy about this one because it seems yet another way to retroactively rob Pete Rose! No disrespect to Davey, but Rose was the captain of the Big Red Machine. Period. Again, I’m amazed that so many official Reds publications got this one wrong.

  6. Mark in CC

    In fact it was documented that Bench was upset that Rose was made captain instead of him. It was one of Sparky’s first moves as manager.

    I forget who the player was that was traded but Larkin even resigned as captain, tore the C off the uniform, when the teammate was traded. After a day or so it was all forgotten. Anybody remember who it was that was traded and caused this flap?

  7. Steve Price

    There was no one traded.. I’ve mentioned this situation some in the last couple of days talking about comparing Concepion and Larkin.

    Larkin “removed the c” (to an uproar of goofy fans and journalists) because the Reds demanded (yes, I say demanded) that more fans come to the games so that they could afford good players (someone the other day said Larkin questioned his teammates’ abilities–no, he stood up to authority for his teammates and the teams’ fans).

    Larkin spoke up…and the Red went out and signed Greg Vaughn, and we had our very good 1999 season.

    Yet, people still have harped on Larkin for speaking up…he understood the situation better than anyone else…

    As for McCoy…no doubt he was quoting the errant listing on the REds home page, where someone mistyped 1973 instead of 1983.

  8. Jason

    I seem to recall the Larkin incident having something to do with Lenny Harris being traded. I could be wrong, but that’s what I remember.

  9. pinson343

    Larkin did protest in some fashion when Lenny Harris was traded, wearing an arm band or some such thing. I’ll take Steve’s word for it that his removing the “c” was a different situation.

  10. Steve Price

    It’s always possible I have the two stories intermingled…I remember Larkin being upset about trading Harris, too. There was an uproar from radio fans over Larkin speaking up in both instances. Protesting over trading Harris was unnecessary; protesting the request for fan “investment” was admirable.

  11. Mark in CC

    I think it was the Lenny Harris trade when he removed the C. I thought he made a strong statement and was disappointed 1. that he relented and took the C back and 2. the Reds management offered it back. I thought it showed some weakness both ways.