The history of Giants captains before Belt's jersey joke

Brandon Belt

Brandon Belt didn't need tape this time.

With two pounds of his heart with his right hand in a 'C' shape on a fog-filled orange G, Belt jokingly reminded his Giants teammates he's the captain Tuesday night after his RBI double in the eighth inning of their 6-1 win over the San Diego Padres.

Belt first wore a homemade black 'C' Friday on his jersey after Evan Longoria slapped electrical tape on the first baseman's jersey. Belt joked he was the team captain on the flight to Chicago, and Longoria made it "official" as Belt proudly wore the honor throughout the Giants' 6-1 win at Wrigley Field. He backed it up, too. 

Captain Belt reached base four times in the Giants' win against the Chicago Cubs. He went 2-for-3, scored the tying run and hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning. 

No, Belt isn't the Giants' actual captain. That doesn't mean the Giants haven't had captains before. It just hasn't been done since 1984. 

The Giants have had 10 official recorded captains. Jack Doyle was the first Giant to be crowned captain in 1902. He was released by the Giants that same year after hitting .301 over 51 games. 

Six players -- Doyle, Dan McGanne, Larry Doyle, Gus Mancuso, Mel Ott and Alvin Dark -- served as Giants captain when the franchise played in New York. Willie Mays was the first player named captain when the Giants moved to San Francisco. He was named captain ahead of the 1961 season, the Giants' fourth in San Francisco. Mays held the honor through 1972, his last with the Giants. 


Five seasons later, Willie McCovey was named captain from 1977 through 1980, his final four seasons in San Francisco. Darrell Evans and Jack Clark also held the honor. Evans' final four years with the Giants -- 1980 through 1983 -- also were the four he held his captaincy. 

And then there's Clark. 

His captaincy lasted just one season. 

Clark made his major league debut with the Giants in 1975. He was just 19 years old. The power-hitting right fielder became a full-time big leaguer in 1977 and played for the Giants through 1984 -- his one season as captain. From 1977 through 1984, he was a two-time All-Star with the Giants, averaging 20 homers, an .843 OPS and 136 OPS+. 

He also played just 56 games his final season in San Francisco. Clark and manager Frank Robinson, a Hall of Famer in his own right, often feuded and some within the Giants' front office reportedly felt Clark was shelved for too long whenever he dealt with injuries. The Giants traded Clark to the St. Louis Cardinals for four players on Feb. 1, 1985. 

Clark was named an All-Star his first season in St. Louis, and there hasn't been a captain in San Francisco since. 

Some felt Buster Posey should be named captain for Bruce Bochy's final season managing the Giants in 2019. Posey and Bochy felt otherwise

"He doesn’t need that title," Bochy, who never named a captain as manager, said during spring training in 2019. 

Posey, who in reality has donned an invisible 'C' on his chest for the Giants since the 2010 season, said he has never worn one on his jersey at any level.

"How many teams really do that?” Posey asked. “I don’t think there’s even a team that does that.”

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There isn't. The word "captain" was tossed around baseball more often than usual recently with Derek Jeter entering the Hall of Fame. David Wright and Adrian Beltre actually were baseball's last two official captains for their respective teams during the 2018 season. 

In San Francisco, the title of captain has hit the brakes ever since the Giants shipped Clark to the Cardinals nearly 40 years ago. While it's more comedy than an official title, Belt has brought the captain back to the Bay, winning games on a daily basis during the final year of his Giants contract. 

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