Think of these names: Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, and John Franco, each legends in orange and blue. These are the only players in Mets’ history to be named captain. Now we can add another as manager Terry Collins has named David Wright the team’s new captain. Considering this team’s current state it is a smart move done at precisely the right time.
When David Wright first came up, the Mets were an entirely different team, with some deep connections to the team that went to the World Series in 2000. Imagine Wright walking into that 2004 clubhouse that included the likes of Mike Piazza, Cliff Floyd, John Franco, Todd Zeile, and Tom Glavine. Some big names to be sure, but Wright immediately made a connection with another player, Jose Reyes, who had only come up the year before.
While Wright and Reyes became friends, the fellow infielders fought their way into the lineup with grit and talent. Of course comparisons were made and, at first, many thought Reyes to be far more talented and the future of the organization. With his megawatt smile, raw speed, and likeable personality, Reyes was a cinch to be a fan favorite. Watching him run from first to third was pure poetry in motion, and it seemed Wright would be literally left in his dust.
However, some important things happened over the years. Wright got better and stronger, and after hitting 14 homers in his rookie year, Wright came back in 2005 and slugged 27 while driving in 102 runs, batting .306, and having a .523 slugging percentage. Not only did this open some eyes, but it started turning the thought process about the Reyes-Wright question. Undeniably, Reyes was still impressive and together they seemed like they were indeed the faces of the future.
Unfortunately, as Wright’s star ascended Reyes was plagued by all sorts of injuries and doubts about his effort and team spirit. Even when Reyes eventually led the league in hitting in 2011, the achievement was disparaged because Collins allowed Reyes to sit out the rest of the game after getting a base hit in order to preserve the batting title. Shortly thereafter, Reyes was on his way to Miami.
The Mets certainly showed their love for Wright with last year’s offer of $138 million for his services. This made it official; Wright is indeed the franchise, inheriting that title from Tom Seaver, the last player to be considered that important. Now Wright is the captain, the leader, the one who will take the team forward. Fellow players, fans, and baseball writers all agree that it was a great move and honored a great guy for his years of dedicated service.
But don’t go thinking that Wright is letting any of this go to his head. He refused to allow the team to sew a “C” on his uniform. His humility is such that he does not want to advertise what everyone knows. That is the kind of guy Wright is. He is hurting right now and may miss Opening Day as he heals, but there will be no bigger cheer at Citi Field than when his name is announced. Wright is not just the right player to be named captain at the right time, but he is now one for the ages.
Photo credit: Getty Images