In the 138-year franchise history of the Cincinnati Reds, there have only been three men to ever be named captains of baseball’s oldest franchise.
The first did not come along until 1970 when a player by the name of Peter Edward Rose was selected to break through the mold. Rose’s accolades are an endless stream of awe-inspiring statistics that would arguably have him slated as one of the greatest to ever play the American Pastime.
Following Rose’s departure in 1978, the club waited until 1983 to name shortstop Davey Concepcion as captain. He had been a mainstay in Cincinnati and something of a local folk hero. Adapted by the city for his smooth defensive play, Concepcion is one of the most popular Reds of all-time.
The most recent man to be awarded the honor is also the only one of the three to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. While both men prior to Barry Larkin have made a case for themselves to be enshrined amongst the game’s greatest, Larkin is the only one with an emblazoned plaque.
A common constant amongst these three prior immortals is their claim to legendary status. For as long as the Cincinnati Reds are playing baseball, these three names will be inextricably linked with the lineage of history.
So, where does Devin Mesoraco fit into all of this?
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To assume that Devin Mesoraco could ever attain a fraction of the accomplishments the aforementioned achieved would be outlandish and precocious. What Mesoraco does display in common with the former Reds captains is the undeniable trait of leadership.
If the fan base were polled on whom the new captain of the Reds would be, the answer would almost immediately be Joey Votto from a majority of the fan base. He has the contract that guarantees he will be a Red for the entirety of his career and displays the numbers that teammates can rally behind. But, is Votto truly a leader?
That is not to disparage Votto in any light. He is the most complete left-handed batter in the game currently, and one of the most feared all-around hitters period. Unfortunately, for his captaincy, his demeanor does not match that of prior candidates.
Pete Rose played the game harder than any man who ever lived. Davey Concepcion was the slickest fielding shortstop not named Ozzie Smith in quite some time and a cornerstone of the franchise. Barry Larkin was a glimmering light that brought hope to a franchise in it’s darkest hours and found his way into the Hall of Fame. While they undoubtedly led by example, they also verbally led.
Under no circumstances will Joey Votto ever demonstratively interact with a teammate with the cameras around. That may be more a byproduct of the current game than anything, but it is also not Votto’s style. He is calm, in control. Not every player is like that.
Devin Mesoraco may be a young gun, but you would be hard-pressed to find somebody in the Reds organization that can say a bad word about the tirelessly working catcher. Even in the midst of his unprecedented hot streak to begin the season, he has repeated endlessly to anyone within earshot, that his job is to control the pitching staff—which, in case you haven’t noticed, has been equally on fire to start 2014.
No one can realistically claim Mesoraco should get the “C” slapped on his jersey after an outstanding month of April, but lines have been drawn. Those that cannot see the potential not only on the field, but also off the field of a man like Mesoraco are missing some crucial elements.
Growing up in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, Mesoraco has always been mentioned in the same breath as the infamous Groundhog that supposedly determines our fate for the upcoming six weeks. Maybe one day, the Groundhog will be mentioned in the same breath as Devin Mesoraco.