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Dusty Baker

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Dusty Baker

A photo of Dusty Baker.

Johnnie B. "Dusty" Baker, Jr. (born June 15, 1949 in Riverside, California) is a former outfielder in Major League Baseball and the current manager of the Cincinnati Reds.[1] He previously led the San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs, winning the 2002 National League pennant with the Giants.

BiographyEdit

Playing careerEdit

Drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 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. After spending 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 .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. 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.) Baker played his final season in 1986.

Managerial careerEdit

San Francisco GiantsEdit

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. It was during his San Francisco tenure that the term "Dustiny" was coined by the late 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.

Chicago CubsEdit

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. Baker instantly became an icon in the Chicago sports scene, as a plethora of Cubs fans could be seen sporting “In Dusty We Trusty!” shirts. However, the Cubs’ hopes for winning a World Series title were cut short during the 2003 National League Championship Series against the Florida Marlins. While angered Cubs fans denounced the defeat as a mere series of unfortunate “mishaps,” the Marlins would go on to claim the 2003 World Series title. Still crushed by defeat, numerous Cubs began to wear T-shirts featuring the spoonerism, “Muck the Farlins!”.

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.[2]

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. Under Piniella, the Cubs made it to the National League Division Series, but fell to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three game sweep.

Cincinnati RedsEdit

On October 13, 2007, Baker was hired as manager of the Cincinnati Reds, replacing interim manager Pete Mackanin. He also is the first African American manager in Reds history.

CriticismEdit

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, and Jerry Hairston Jr. 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. [3] 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 consistent tendency to overuse young pitchers for damaging the career of Kerry Wood and derailing the career of Mark Prior.[4] Baker was widely known as a "player's manager," attempting to mollify his athletes rather than focusing on team output above personal interests, and favoring his favorite players regardless of their statistical output.[citation needed]

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."[5]

Broadcasting careerEdit

He served as an ESPN analyst during the 2006 MLB Postseason and served in a similar role during the 2007 season.[6]

Personal lifeEdit

Baker was a member of the United States Marine Corps Reserves from 1969 through 1975.[7] 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[8]. They live in Granite Bay, California, an extremely upscale suburb of Sacramento.

Managerial recordsEdit

  • Updated on July 30th, 2008
Team Year Regular Season Post Season
GamesWonLostWin %FinishWonLostWin %Result
San Francisco Giants1993 16210359.6362nd in NL West- - - -
1994 1155560.478 2nd in NL West- - - -
1995 1446777.465 4th in NL West- - - -
1996 1626894.420 4th in NL West- - - -
1997 1629072.5561st in NL West0 3 .000 Lost in NLDS
1998 1638974.5462nd in NL West- - - -
1999 1628676.5312nd in NL West- - - -
2000 1629765.5991st in NL West1 3 .250 Lost in NLDS
2001 1629072.5562nd in NL West- - - -
2002 1619566.5902nd in NL West106.625Lost in World Series
SF Total 1,555 840 715 .540 2 Division Championships
1 Wild Card
17 18 .486
Chicago Cubs2003 1628874.5431st in NL Central66.500Lost in NLCS
2004 1628973.549 3rd in NL Central - - - -
2005 1627983.4884th in NL Central- - - -
2006 1626696.4076th in NL Central - - - -
CHC Total 648 322 326 .497 1 Division Championship 6 6 .500
Cincinnati Reds2008 1627488.4575th in NL Central - - - -
CIN Total 162 74 88 .457 0 0 .000 -
Total 2,412 1,259 1,1153 .521 3 Division Championships
1 Wild Card
23 24 .493

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

External linksEdit

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