David Ismael Concepción Benitez (born June 17, 1948), better known as Dave Concepción, is a former shortstop in Major League Baseball. He was born in Ocumare de la Costa, Aragua State, Venezuela. On August 25,2007 the Cincinnati Reds retired jersey number 13 in honor of Concepción's contributions to their team.
Concepción was signed by the Cincinnati Reds as an amateur free agent in 1967. Following the steps of his childhood heroes Chico Carrasquel and Luis Aparicio, Jr., Concepción, originally drafted as a pitcher, came out of Venezuela to become one of Cincinnati baseball's more popular shortstops. A scrawny kid wearing the number 13 on his uniform, he debuted on April 6, 1970. In his first three seasons, Reds manager Sparky Anderson played him part-time, sharing duties with Woody Woodward and Darrel Chaney.
In 1973 Concepción blossomed, both with the bat and in the field, being named the starting shortstop. On May 9, in a Reds 9-7 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies, Johnny Bench hit three home runs and drove in seven runs against pitcher Steve Carlton. It was the second time that Bench smashed three homers against Carlton in a game. However, a Concepción two-run tie-breaker homer in the ninth, off Barry Lersch, was the game-winner. Concepción had been named to the NL All-Star team, but two days before the game he broke his ankle and missed the second half of the year. At this time he was batting .287, with 8 HRs, 46 RBI, 39 runs, 18 doubles, three triples and 22 stolen bases.
Concepción returned in 1974 and played 160 games, proving wrong those critics who felt he was fragile. He enjoyed his best overall season, batting .281, 14 HR, 82 RBI. Later he would top all of those totals, but his Total Average in '74 (.755), compared to the league, was his best. That season Concepción would win his first Gold Glove Award. It was impressive that he won five Gold Gloves in the 1970s when the outstanding Larry Bowa was in the same league, but Concepción garnered the respect from those who saw them both in their prime, not only in the NL, but throughout baseball.
By 1975 Concepción joined Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, Ken Griffey, Sr., George Foster and César Gerónimo in the famous "Great Eight" starting lineup of The Big Red Machine that would help the Reds win the next two World Series titles. Even after Concepción had established himself in the major leagues as a star shortstop, he continued to play winter ball in Venezuela, helping to improve his batting. After his .274, 5, 49 totals in the 1975 season, Concepción posted marks of : .281, 9, 69 (1976) - .271, 8, 64 (1977) - .301, 6, 67 (1978) - .281, 16, 84 (1979) - .260, 5, 77 (1980) - .306, 5, 67 (1981) - .287, 5, 53 (1982).
On July 13, 1982, the first All-Star Game outside of the United States was held at Montreal's Olympic Stadium. Concepción hit a two-run homer to help the National League to a 4-1 win (the NL's 11th straight victory and 19th in the last 20 contests). Concepción was named the game's Most Valuable Player.
Later in his career, Concepcion worked with Tony Perez and perfected the one-bounce throw to first base. Concepcion was the first shortstop to use this method to take advantage of the speedy artificial turf at Riverfront Stadium and other parks in the National League.
Hampered by an elbow injury and shoulder surgery in 1982, Concepción had consecutive sub-par seasons (1983-84). Grooming Barry Larkin as his successor, he became a dependable handyman at all four infield positions; but it was unrewarding to be the last remnant, and an unheralded member, from the Big Red Machine. Replaced by Larkin in 1986, Concepción was only 44 games away from Larry Bowa's NL record for shortstops.
Dave Concepción retired in 1988. Showing his overall versatility, during his last season he pitched 1 1/3 innings in a blow out game, giving up 2 hits, no runs, and striking out one batter.
On August 25, 2007, Concepción's number 13 was retired by the Reds before their game against the Florida Marlins.
"The best shortstop in baseball during the 1970s, Concepcion was a graceful fielder who made himself into a fine hitter and used his speed well on the base paths. He and Joe Morgan formed one of the finest all-around double play combinations in history. In nineteen seasons -all with the Reds- Concepcion played more than 2,100 games at the shortstop position. He was one of the last of the "Big Red Machine" everyday players to retire." – The Baseball Page
- The Greatest Shortstops Of All Time, by Donald Honig - p. 80, 6 page(s). Dubuque, Ia: Wm. C. Brown Publishers, 1992
- Baseball's Dream Team., by John Thorn - Dave Concepción: "Senor Slick" - p. 40, 10 page(s). New York: Ace Tempo Books, 1982
- Reds' Brass Excited Over Concepcion, Fast-Rising Infield Whiz. The Sporting News, by Earl Lawson - November 8, 1969 (Vol. 168, Issue 17) -- p. 39
- The Making of Dave Concepción. Baseball Digest, by Si Burick - August, 1974 (Vol. 33, Issue 8) -- p. 40, 3 page(s)
- Friday the 13th. Sports Illustrated, by Robert H. Boyle - June 23, 1980 (Vol. 52, Issue 26) -- p. 13, 14
- Dave Concepción Best in the Business. Boys' Life, by Jim Brosnan - September, 1975 (Vol. 65, Issue 9) -- p. 20, 4 page(s)
- List of NL Gold Glove Winners at Shortstop
- List of Gold Glove middle infield duos
- List of MLB players with 2,000 hits
- Players from Venezuela in MLB
- Tigres de Aragua
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
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