While the role of captain in baseball is less formal than in the other sports and most teams do not have captains, the title of Captain is an honor and something that the Nationals should do for Ryan Zimmerman for this upcoming season.
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. Back then, the captain prepared lineups, made decisions about strategy, and encouraged teamwork. When teams didn’t carry full-time coaches, the captain and one or more other players could serve as “coaches” of the base runners; the lines setting off the section where they were allowed to stand were called “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.” However, nowadays, an honorary title is sometimes given to a team member to acknowledge his leadership and clubhouse leadership.
Captains in baseball don’t go to the 50-yard line before the game (and overtime) for the coin toss or hand in the lineup cards every game. Still, they are in an elevated status among their teammates, and the Nationals should give their first “captainship” to honor Ryan Zimmerman during the 2021 season.
Zimmerman has been a member of the team since his debut on September 1, 2005, and was the team’s first-ever draft pick when the Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise moved from Montreal. Zimmerman was drafted by the Nationals fourth overall in the first round of the 2005 Major League Baseball Draft.
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Ryan Zimmerman AKA: Mr. Washington Nationals has been and seen it all in a Washington Nationals uniform, from finishing in last place to winning the World Series in 2019. It even fits that Ryan Zimmerman hit the first-ever home run for the Washington Nationals in a World Series during the World Series’s first game against the Houston Astros Gerrit Cole.
Ryan has had many other memorable moments in a Washington Nationals uniform, including hitting a walk-off home run against the Atlanta Braves on Opening Day in 2008. Not only was this the first Washington home run at Nationals Park, but it also marked the first time the team had won on Opening Day since moving to Washington D.C. in 2005. Zimmerman has signed three contract extensions over his time playing for the Nationals and has set the Nationals franchise record for RBIs on August 9, 2017, earning his 906th RBI on a solo home run against the Miami Marlins. Zimmerman currently holds the team records in:
- Hits (1,784),
- Total bases (3,039),
- Doubles (401),
- Home runs (270) and
- the aforementioned RBI’s (1,015)
The Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos have never named a “captain,” and teams rarely do now. While we don’t know how many more seasons Ryan Zimmerman intends to play, we do know that he has been a constant in DC and has embodied leadership for the Washington Nationals franchise since arriving in 2005.
Edited by: Jonathan Mailloux
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