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Baker in 1941
May 3, 1892|
|Died: September 11, 1973
Olmos Park, Texas
|Batted: Right||Threw: Right|
|April 16, 1914 for the Detroit Tigers|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 30, 1916 for the Detroit Tigers|
|Runs batted in||22|
|Career highlights and awards|
Delmer David Baker (May 3, 1892 – September 11, 1973) was an American catcher, coach and manager in Major League Baseball (MLB). As a manager, he led the 1940 Detroit Tigers to the American League pennant. As a coach, he was known as one of the premier "sign stealers" in baseball.
Player and minor league manager
Born in Sherwood, Oregon, and raised in neighboring Wilsonville, Baker played extensively in the minor leagues. He did appear in 172 Major League games over three seasons (1914–16) with the Tigers, batting .209 with no home runs and 22 runs batted in (RBIs). After managing Detroit's Texas League farm team, the Beaumont Exporters, to 100 victories and the 1932 championship, Baker was named a Tigers coach under Bucky Harris for 1933.
Tigers coach and skipper
He remained in that role under new playing manager Mickey Cochrane when the Tigers won back-to-back AL pennants in 1934–35, and their first ever World Series title in 1935. Baker, as Detroit's "senior coach," took over as acting manager three times: in 1933, when Harris was fired at the end of the season, then temporarily in the midseasons of 1936 (when Cochrane took a leave of absence for a bout of depression) and 1937 (when Mickey was hit in the head by a pitched ball and suffered a fractured skull that ended his playing career).
In 1938, the Tigers started poorly and by August 7 they had won only 47 of 98 games. Cochrane was released as skipper, and Baker was given the permanent job. He rallied Detroit to 37 wins in 56 games, enough to finish in the first division, but Detroit slipped to fifth in 1939.
Manager of 1940 AL champs
The following season, 1940, saw the New York Yankees (league and world champions four years running) drop out of the race, and the Tigers and Cleveland Indians battle for the flag. On the final day of the season with the clubs tied, Baker chose obscure rookie pitcher Floyd Giebell to pitch the crucial contest — and he defeated future Hall of Famer Bob Feller and the Tribe, 2–0, to win the pennant by a game. In the 1940 World Series, however, Detroit lost in seven games to the Cincinnati Reds, despite the pitching heroics of well-traveled veteran Bobo Newsom.
With World War II on the horizon, the 1941 season was marked by the call to active military service of several baseball stars. One was the Tigers' great power hitter, Hank Greenberg. With him missing from the lineup, and with Newsom ineffective, Detroit fell below .500 that season, and again in 1942. Baker was released, and replaced by Steve O'Neill.
He then returned to the coaching ranks with Cleveland (1943–44) and the Boston Red Sox (1945–48; 1953–60). From 1949–51, he served as skipper of the Sacramento Solons and the San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League. In his final season, 1960, Baker managed one last time in the big leagues as Boston's interim pilot from June 8–12 between Billy Jurges' firing and Pinky Higgins' rehiring. Under Baker, the last-place Red Sox won two games and lost five. He retired from the game after his 50th season in baseball, his last day overshadowed by Ted Williams' last game as a player.
Baker's career major league managing record: 412 wins, 357 losses (.536) over all or parts of nine seasons.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- Del Baker managerial career statistics at Baseball-Reference.com
- The Deadball Era
- Del Baker at Find a Grave
|Detroit Tigers manager
|Boston Red Sox manager