Dusty Baker: How Beloved 73-Year-Old Baseball Legend Became Oldest Manager Ever to Win World Series
Dusty Baker sat in the dugout, looking down and taking notes as the coaches and support staff spontaneously mobbed him, chanting his name, as Houston Astros secured victory in World Series on Saturday.
“I feel great, these guys are the best guys, they always believe. This is for my mom and my dad, my mom who passed away in January, and my brother and all my boys,” he said afterward, breaking his wife’s embrace and high-fiving those who rushed to congratulate him.
“God damn it,” Baker continued, turning to the ESPN reporter with a big smile. “It’s a wonderful thing.”
The 73-year-old accomplished everything else — the only manager in MLB history to lead five different teams to the postseason and win division titles with five different clubs, the first black manager to win 2,000 career games and one of only two individuals in MLB history produced 1,800 hits as a player and 1,800 wins as a manager.
“I mean, I got 2,000 wins and all they talk about is that I haven’t won a World Series yet, you know?” he said before the game, according to MLB.com. “So it’s important. It matters to people. It’s important to us.”
With this win, Baker became the third black manager to win a World Series after Dave Roberts and Cito Gaston.
“My mom, she told me several times, to be African-American, you have to be twice as good to achieve the same thing,” he later said. “I’ve heard it over and over again.”
Baker has come agonizingly close to winning that elusive World Series title before, reaching the final hurdle twice – in 2002 with the San Francisco Giants, when they were up 5-0 at one point in Game 6 and eight outs away from the title, and 2021 with the Astros.
For nearly 30 years since taking control of his first team — the Giants — in 1993, Baker has pursued this goal that has eluded him every time he’s gotten close.
He was a crowd favorite, beloved in baseball for his empathy and thoughtfulness, the one everyone was rooting for but always seemed to finish second.
Astros outfielder and first baseman Trey Mancini detailed Baker’s kindness to his players in an interview with The Athletic.
Some players on the team like banana pudding, Mancini said, so Baker would buy them on the road and leave them in the lockers while he visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral and brought a rosary for Mancini.
For an Astros team still reeling from the fallout that marred its 2017 World Series title when MLB found the franchise illegally created a system that decodes and communicates opposing teams’ pitching cues, Baker has proven to be the perfect antidote.
“When he got here in 2020, we had the whole cheating scandal and we had Covid,” starter Lance McCullers Jr. said, according to the New York Times.
“He was a stabilizing force for us. I wish we could have done it a little sooner for him, but he really deserved this.”
And with this World Series title, Baker becomes not only the oldest manager in MLB to win the biggest award, but also older than any other head coach to win a Super Bowl, NBA Championship or Stanley Cup.
“I just knew it was going to happen sooner or later, you stay long enough and you have good teams. I said, if I win one, I want to win two, so we can go for two – we’ll see,” he said afterwards.
Before coaching, Baker enjoyed a successful playing career, winning a World Series in 1981 with the Los Angeles Dodgers and his 40 years between titles is the most between any two consecutive World Series won as a player or manager, according to the Elias Sports Bureau .
“I’m so happy it took this long,” Baker added. “Because if this had happened years ago, I might not even be here.
“Maybe it wasn’t supposed to happen, so hopefully I could impact the lives and families of a few young men, as well as a lot of people in the country, by showing what perseverance and character can do for you.”
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