Dusty Baker

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Dusty Baker
Dusty Baker talking before game.JPG
Baker with the Reds in July 2009
Outfielder / Manager
Born: (1949-06-15) June 15, 1949 (age 65)
Riverside, California
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 7, 1968 for the Atlanta Braves
Last MLB appearance
October 4, 1986 for the Oakland Athletics
Career statistics
(through 2013 season)
Batting average .278
Home runs 242
Runs batted in 1,013
Games managed 3,176
Win–loss record 1,671–1,504
Winning % .526
Teams

As player

As manager

Career highlights and awards

Johnnie B. "Dusty" Baker, Jr. (born June 15, 1949) is an American former player and manager in Major League Baseball. He enjoyed a 19-year career as a hard-hitting outfielder, primarily with the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers. He helped the Dodgers to pennants in 1977 and 1978 and to the championship in 1981. He then enjoyed a 20-year career as a manager with the San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs, and Cincinnati Reds. He led the Giants to the 2002 National League pennant and also reached the playoffs with the Cubs and the Reds.

Playing career[edit]

Baker was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 1967 amateur draft out of Del Campo High School near Sacramento, California. (Baker was inducted into the Sac-Joaquin Section's Hall of Fame class in 2010 for his play at Del Campo.)[1]

Baker began his major league baseball career as an outfielder for the Atlanta Braves in 1968. As Brave, Baker earned a spot as a footnote in history. On April 8, 1974, he 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.[citation needed])

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 batting .167 with an OBP of .192.)[2]

After spending eight full seasons with the Braves and another eight with the Los Angeles Dodgers, as well as short tenures with both the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics, Baker finished his career as a player with a .278 batting average, 242 home runs, and 1,013 runs batted in. Baker played his final season in 1986.

Many believe that Baker played an integral part in the first ever high five, which occurred between Baker and Dodgers teammate Glenn Burke on October 2, 1977, in Dodger Stadium.[3]

It was the last day of the regular season, and Dodgers leftfielder Dusty Baker had just gone deep off the Astros' J. R. Richard. It was Baker's 30th home run, making the Dodgers the first team in history to have four sluggers – Baker, Ron Cey, Steve Garvey, and Reggie Smith – with at least 30 homers each. It was a wild, triumphant moment and a good omen as the Dodgers headed to the playoffs. Burke, waiting on deck, thrust his hand enthusiastically over his head to greet his friend at the plate. Baker, not knowing what to do, smacked it. "His hand was up in the air, and he was arching way back", says Baker, now 62 and managing the Reds. "So I reached up and hit his hand. It seemed like the thing to do."[3]

He is noted for his love of toothpicks. He chews them every day and was once quoted saying, "Toothpicks are an excellent source of protein."[citation needed]

Managerial career[edit]

San Francisco Giants[edit]

Baker in 1991

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. Baker is infamously known for removing Russ Ortiz during game six of the 2002 World Series while Ortiz was throwing a 2 hitter. Many Giants fans credit Baker for causing the loss as the Angels came back and won that game 6-5. 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[citation needed] 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 has since joined Gaston and Baker by managing the Texas Rangers to the 2010 and 2011 World Series.

Chicago Cubs[edit]

Baker meeting with Cecil Cooper of the Houston Astros prior to a 2006 matchup at Wrigley Field.

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.[4]

While the Cubs’ organization stated[citation needed] 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.

Cincinnati Reds[edit]

Dusty Baker sporting his new Reds jersey at RedsFest 2007.

On October 13, 2007, Baker was hired as manager of the Cincinnati Reds, replacing interim manager Pete Mackanin.[5]

Baker and the Reds finished 74-88 and 78-84 in 2008 and 2009, finishing 5th and 4th in the NL Central. In 2010 the Reds enjoyed success as one of baseball's breakout teams, and on September 28, 2010, the Reds won the Central title. This was their first playoff appearance in 15 years.[6] Baker signed a two-year contract extension with the Reds on October 4, 2010.

During September 2012, Baker stayed in a Chicago hospital for treatment of an irregular heartbeat. Baker, 63, was hospitalized because of a longstanding heart problem. The Reds clinched the 2012 Central Division championship in his absence, their second in three years and Baker's fifth as a manager.[7]

On October 15, 2012, Baker signed a 2-year contract extension as manager of the Reds.[8]

On October 4, 2013, Baker was fired as manager of the Reds after a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Wild Card Game. By the time of his firing, he had spent six years with the Cincinnati Reds.[9]

On October 22, 2013, he was replaced by Reds pitching coach Bryan Price.[10]

Criticism[edit]

Dusty Baker during his days with the Chicago Cubs.

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 Pérez, José Macías, Juan Pierre, Corey Patterson, Willy Taveras, Jerry Hairston, Jr., Orlando Cabrera, and Drew Stubbs at or near the top of his lineups. Baker rejected (and still rejects) the on-base percentage statistic, arguing that extra baserunners simply "clog up the bases" unless they can run well.[11] This runs contrary to 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, earning him the nickname "Widowmaker." Less dramatic cases include Shawn Estes, Bill Swift, John Burkett, Mark Leiter, Kirk Rueter, and more recently Jonathan Broxton. Wood and Prior 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.[12] Baker is widely known as a "player's manager".[13][14] He is seen as preferring to play veterans over prospects[15] 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."[16]

Baker has never won the World Series as a manager, although he has presided over some of the biggest collapses in baseball history. In 1993, his Giants led the National League West by 9.5 games on August 7 but ended up losing the division to the Atlanta Braves and missing the postseason. The Giants lost 12-1 on the final day of the season when a win could have forced a tiebreaking game with Atlanta for the division championship. In 2002, the Giants led the World Series against the Anaheim Angels 3 games to 2. San Francisco had a 5-0 lead in the seventh inning of the sixth game but allowed the Angels to score 6 unanswered runs in the last 3 innings to win. The Angels also won Game 7 to win the championship. In 2003, Baker's Cubs led the National League Championship Series 3 games to 1 against the Florida Marlins. The Marlins stormed back to win the final 3 games of the series, including overcoming a 3-0 Chicago lead in the eighth inning of Game 6. In 2012, Baker's Reds led the National League Division Series 2 games to 0 against the San Francisco Giants. With the final 3 games of the series at home in Cincinnati, the Reds needed to win just once to advance to the National League Championship Series, but the Giants completed the comeback by winning games 3, 4, and 5 and went on to win the World Series. The Reds also suffered a six-game losing streak to end the 2013 season, including the Wild Card loss at Pittsburgh. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty admitted the team's latest collapse played a role in the decision to fire Baker.[17]

Broadcasting career[edit]

Baker served as an ESPN analyst during the 2006 MLB Postseason and served in a similar role during the 2007 season.[18]

Personal life[edit]

Baker was a member of the United States Marine Corps Reserve from 1969 through 1975.[19] Baker has a wife, Melissa, and two children named Natosha and Darren. Darren was famously rescued by J. T. Snow from being run over at home plate during the 2002 World Series.[20] Baker is currently a member of the National Advisory Board for Positive Coaching Alliance, a national non-profit organization committed to providing student-athletes with a positive, character-building youth sports experience.[21] Baker has appeared in several videos and webinars for this organization, all of which can be found on the group's YouTube channel.[22] Near the end of the 2012 baseball season, Baker was hospitalized for both an irregular heart beat as well as a "mini-stroke".[23]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Joe Davidson. "Hometown Report: Father's lessons helped Baker aspire to greatness". The Sacramento Bee. Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  2. ^ http://www.baseball-reference.com/postseason/1981_WS.shtml
  3. ^ a b Jon Mooallem. "The history and mystery of the high five", ESPN, July 29, 2011
  4. ^ Report: Baker to stay with Cubs for remainder of season – MLB – Yahoo! Sports
  5. ^ "Reds give Dusty Baker a three-year deal". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2007-10-24. Retrieved 2007-10-14. 
  6. ^ (2010-09-29) "Reds, Rays and Yanks Punch Playoff Tickets", CBS News. Retrieved 2010-09-29.
  7. ^ (2010-10-04) "Dusty Baker, Reds agree on extension", ESPN.com. Retrieved 2010-10-04
  8. ^ Snyder, Matt (October 15, 2012). "Reds, Dusty Baker agree to two-year contract extension". CBSSports.com. Retrieved October 15, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Reds dismiss manager Dusty Baker". ESPN.com. October 4, 2013. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  10. ^ http://www.sbnation.com/mlb/2013/10/21/4864796/bryan-price-cincinnati-reds-new-manager
  11. ^ Fire Joe Morgan
  12. ^ Dusty Baker and Pitch Counts – The Hardball Times
  13. ^ Fay, John (2007-10-13). "Baker to manage Reds". The Cincinnati Enquirer (cincinnati.com). Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  14. ^ Connolly, Marc (2001). "Spotlight: Dusty Baker". ABC Sports Online. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  15. ^ Perrotto, John (2009-03-11). "On the Beat: Spring Dust-up". Baseball Prospectus. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  16. ^ Johnson, Chuck (July 8, 2003). "Baker stands by heat comments". USA Today. Retrieved May 1, 2010. 
  17. ^ "Reds dismiss manager Dusty Baker". ESPN. October 4, 2013. Retrieved October 5, 2013. 
  18. ^ Chicago Tribune http://chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/cs-070124dusty,1,476224.story?coll=cs-home-headlines |url= missing title (help). 
  19. ^ Speakers Platform
  20. ^ "Baker's son gets unexpected ride from home plate". USA Today. 2002-10-25. Retrieved 2007-06-27. 
  21. ^ http://www.positivecoach.org/our-story/our-team/national-advisory-board/
  22. ^ http://www.youtube.com/user/PositiveCoaching?feature=mhee
  23. ^ http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/8425466/dusty-baker-suffered-stroke-return-cincinnati-reds-final-series-next-week "ESPN: Reds' Dusty Baker suffered stroke"

External links[edit]