- CF, OF, LF, RF, 1B, DH
- June 15, 1949
- 6' 2"
- 183 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 9-07-1968 with ATL
- Allstar Selections:
- 1977 NLCS, 1980 SS, 1981 GG, 1981 SS, 1993 Mgr, 1997 Mgr, 2000 Mgr
Johnnie B. "Dusty" Baker, Jr. (born June 15, 1949 in Riverside, California). Hank Aaron said, "Dusty Baker has more potential than any outfielder I've seen in all my seasons with the Braves."
Before Dustin was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 27th-round in 1967 amateur draft out of Del Campo High School near Sacramento, California, Dusty Baker began his professional baseball career as an outfielder for the Braves in 1968. Baker seemed ready to realize that potential when he batted .321 (third in the NL) in 1972, his first full season in the ML. In 1974, Baker also earned a spot as a footnote in history. On April 8, 1974, Baker was on deck when Hank Aaron hit home run 715 to pass Babe Ruth in career home runs. (He said he hit a double "That nobody saw and nobody cared" in that at-bat.)
But after three straight subpar seasons, he was traded to the Dodgers in November 1975. Another poor season followed, but in 1977 he rebounded (.291, 30 HR, 89 RBI). He set a club record against San Diego with five RBI in one inning. When he hit his 30th homer on the last day of the 1977 season, it enabled the Los Angeles Dodgers to become the first team ever to have four 30 home run hitters (Reggie Smith, Ron Cey, and Steve Garvey were the others) in one season. He hit .357 with a four-game-record eight RBI in the LCS, and his two-run homer off Steve Carlton provided the game-winning RBI in the NLCS and he batted .292 in the World Series that the dodger's lost to New York in 6 games.
In three more LCS, he never hit less than .316. In 1981, the muscular leftfielder again finished third in batting (.320), won a Gold Glove, and made an outstanding catch in the All-Star Game at Cleveland.
In total he spendt sixteen full seasons with the Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, as well short tenures with both the San Francisco Giants, and Oakland Athletics, Baker finished his prosperous career as a player with a .278 batting average, 242 home runs, and 1,013 runs batted in. Furthermore, a few of Baker’s accomplishments as a player include playing for the National League All-Star team in 1981 and 1982, winning three League Championship series in 1977, 1978, and 1981. Baker ultimately won a World Series title in 1981 with the Dodgers. However, Baker played poorly during the series and did not contribute much to the Dodgers winning cause batting only .167 with an OBP of .192.
Baker was inducted into the Sac-Joaquin Section's Hall of Fame class in 2010 for his play at Del Campo.
San Francisco Giants
Baker's coaching career, ironically, started with his former Dodger arch-rival: the San Francisco Giants. Baker began his coaching career as a first base coach for the San Francisco Giants in 1988, and then spent the following four years (1989–1992) as the hitting coach, and finally became the manager in 1993, replacing the departing Roger Craig. In his very first year as Giants manager, he won the N.L. Manager of the Year award, leading the team to a 103–59 record, which was the second-best record in baseball that year (behind the 104–58 Atlanta Braves), and 31 games better than their 72–90 finish the previous year. His Giants went on to win division titles in 1997 and again in 2000; Baker would win Manager of the Year honors in both of those years as well. In 2002, his Giants gained the Wild-Card berth and from there advanced to the World Series, where they lost in seven games to the Anaheim Angels who were managed by his former Dodger teammate, Mike Scioscia. It was during his San Francisco tenure that the term "Dustiny" was coined by former Giants pitcher Rod Beck. Despite Baker’s success in San Francisco, the Giants let him leave to manage the Chicago Cubs and hired Felipe Alou to replace him.
To date, Baker is one of only three African Americans to manage a World Series team. Cito Gaston was the first, managing the Toronto Blue Jays to the championship in the 1992 and 1993 World Series. Ron Washington joined Gaston and Baker by managing the Texas Rangers to the 2010 World Series.
Baker made a major impact with the Cubs in his first season as manager for the ball club. With the help of an impressive pitching staff and big gun batters such as Sammy Sosa and Moisés Alou, the Chicago Cubs were able to claim their first divisional title in over a decade. However, the Cubs’ hopes for winning a World Series title were cut short during the 2003 National League Championship Series against the Florida Marlins. The Marlins would go on to claim the 2003 World Series.
Following the 2003 season, Baker and the Cubs failed to see another playoff berth. In 2004, the team was involved in a heated wild card chase with the Houston Astros, but fell out of contention near the season’s end. In the subsequent season, the Cubs lost several of their key players, most notably ace pitchers Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, to injuries. The team finished the season with a 79–83 record, marking the first time in three years that the Cubs finished with a losing record. The Cubs’ performance declined in the next season, as they fell to 66-96, and finished last in the entire National League.
While the Cubs’ organization stated that Baker would remain the team’s manager throughout the 2006 season, they did not renew his contract. They allowed Baker to address the media in a press-conference in early October, where he officially announced his departure. The Cubs turned to Lou Piniella to replace Baker for the 2007 Chicago Cubs season.
On October 13, 2007, Baker was hired as manager of the Cincinnati Reds, replacing interim manager Pete Mackanin. He also is the first black manager in Reds history.
Dusty Baker sporting his new Reds jersey at RedsFest 2007.
Dusty Baker and the Reds had mediocre seasons in 2008 and 2009, finishing 5th and 4th in the National League Central. In 2010 the Reds enjoyed success as one of baseball's breakout teams, and on September 28, 2010, the Reds won the National League Central title. This was their first playoff appearance in 15 years. Baker signed a two-year contract extension with the Reds on October 4, 2010.
Baker, an old-school baseball traditionalist, was scrutinized for the Cubs’ declining productivity. To sabermetricians, many of his methods were puzzling, such as his tendency to put players with a poor on-base percentage, such as Neifi Perez, Jose Macias, Corey Patterson, Willy Taveras, Jerry Hairston Jr, and Orlando Cabrera at or near the top of his lineups. Baker rejected (and still rejects) the importance of on-base percentage, arguing that extra baserunners simply "clog up the bases" unless they can run well. This flies in the face of statistically-oriented baseball strategy and has made Baker a frequent target among the sabermetric community. Additionally, many fans, commentators, and writers blamed his tendency to overuse pitchers and for damaging the careers of Robb Nen, Kerry Wood, Mark Prior and Edinson Volquez. Less dramatic cases include Shawn Estes, Bill Swift, John Burkett, Mark Leiter, Kirk Reuter and Aaron Harang. Wood and Prior, along with Edinson Volquez of the Reds, all suffered serious arm injuries following their first full seasons under Baker. Wood and Prior averaged 122 and 126 pitches per start, respectively, in their final six regular-season starts of 2003. Baker is widely known as a "player's manager," attempting to mollify his athletes rather than focusing on team output, and favoring his favorite players regardless of their statistical output. He is also known for playing unproductive veterans over prospects even when his teams are out of the playoff hunt, stating a need to maintain the integrity of the playoff races.
In 2003, Baker was the subject of some controversy when he stated that "black and Hispanic players are better suited to playing in the sun and heat than white players." Dusty, defending his beliefs, later said, "What I meant is that blacks and Latinos take the heat better than most whites, and whites take the cold better than most blacks and Latinos. That's it, pure and simple. Nothing deeper than that."
He served as an ESPN analyst during the 2006 MLB Postseason and served in a similar role during the 2007 season.Personal Life
Baker was a member of the United States Marine Corps Reserves from 1969 through 1975. Baker has a wife, Melissa, and two children named Natosha and Darren. Darren was famously rescued from being run over at home plate by J. T. Snow during the 2002 World Series.
1. "Reds give Dusty Baker a three-year deal". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2007-10-24. http://web.archive.org/web/20071024202900/http://latimes.com/sports/la-sp-newswire14oct14,1,4876134.story?coll=la-headlines-sports. Retrieved 2007-10-14.
3. Joe Davidson. "Hometown Report: Father's lessons helped Baker aspire to greatness". The Sacramento Bee. http://www.sacbee.com/2010/10/30/3144827/fathers-lessons-helped-baker-aspire.html. Retrieved 2010-10-30.
4. Report: Baker to stay with Cubs for remainder of season - MLB - Yahoo! Sports
5. (2010-09-29) "Reds, Rays and Yanks Punch Playoff Tickets", CBS News. Retrieved 2010-09-29.
6. (2010-10-04) "Dusty Baker, Reds agree on extension", ESPN.com. Retrieved 2010-10-04
7. Fire Joe Morgan
8. Dusty Baker and Pitch Counts - The Hardball Times
9. Fay, John (2007-10-13). "Baker to manage Reds". The Cincinnati Enquirer (cincinnati.com). http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20071013/SPT04/310130034/Baker-to-manage-Reds. Retrieved 2010-06-06.
10. Connolly, Marc (2001). "Spotlight: Dusty Baker". ABC Sports Online. http://espn.go.com/abcsports/wwos/rtrdusty2.html. Retrieved 2010-06-06.
11. Harrell, Illya (2010). "The Hugs Are Over: Dusty Baker Needs To Be Fired". Bleacher Report. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/380326-the-hugs-are-over-dusty-baker-needs-to-be-fired. Retrieved 2010-06-06.
12. Perrotto, John (2009-03-11). "On the Beat: Spring Dust-up". Baseball Prospectus. http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=8606. Retrieved 2010-06-06.
13. Johnson, Chuck (July 8, 2003). "Baker stands by heat comments". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/nl/cubs/2003-07-07-baker_x.htm. Retrieved May 1, 2010.
14. Chicago Tribune. http://chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/cs-070124dusty,1,476224.story?coll=cs-home-headlines.
15. Speakers Platform
16. "Baker's son gets unexpected ride from home plate". USA Today. 2002-10-25. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/playoffs/2002-10-25-roundup-baker_x.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-27.
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