Derek Jeter: 2003-2014
Jeter tells the story that, when he was named captain, he believed he was about to be punished by The Boss. He'd been recently captured in the tabloids partying, and thought he was en route to being reamed out.
Instead, Steinbrenner jumpstarted an incredible 2003 season by making the unspoken official and naming Jeter the team's captain for their post-dynastic era.
Of course, Jeter had always been the face of the franchise and stoic leader. He was de facto before he was stamped in ink.
Jeter's tenure featured one final 2009 World Series win, a remarkable 2003 comeback that had Pedro Martínez reeling and got his manager dismissed, and, sadly, the 2004 season that tilted the Red Sox rivalry forever back to equilibrium, much like North Carolina and Duke's fabled 2022 March Madness tournament did. He was the textbook definition of a captain through it all, though, and still struggles to watch the 2004 highlights that briefly threw his career off the tracks before the 2009 redemption song we're all still so grateful for.
Oh, and maybe take notes, Yankees. Don't show those 2004 lowlights to "motivate" anyone. Halting that behavior now falls on...
Aaron Judge: 2022-Present
Much like Jeter, this has been Aaron Judge's team since he arrived in 2017.
But now it's official, with Anthony Rizzo as his Vice President. Go forth and lead, young man. And maybe buy the man who preceded you a hefty meal every once in a while.
Children of the 1990s grew up with Mattingly and Jeter. Children of today will have Judge, and they'll have him forever.
That's what this is supposed to be all about.