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Houston Manager Dusty Baker Has Made Huge Impact on Baseball

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Dusty Baker has managed five MLB teams into the playoffs.All-Pro Reels, Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 2.0

By Anna Laible

Representation, grit, faith, and determination describe Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker throughout his career as both a player and manager. One goal that keeps him going is to win a World Series trophy during his tenure as a manager. His impact on the game is unmatched as he recently became the 1st African-American manager to break into the 2,000-win club.

Baker earned his nickname “Dusty” as a kid from playing around in the dirt. He started his career at a mere 19 years old, but was hesitant to play in the Deep South. Due to the help and guidance of Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, his teammate in Atlanta, Hank convinced Dusty’s father that he would watch over his son during the start of his career, and even take him to church. It was only fitting that Baker was in the on- deck circle when Aaron hit his legendary 715th home run.

Dusty Baker, a two-time Silver Slugger, two-time All-Star, Gold Glove winner, and three-time Manager of the Year, is the winningest manager without a World Series ring (2,011 career wins through Wednesday). 

He is also the only manager in the history of baseball to take five different franchises to the post-season (Giants, Cubs, Reds, Nationals, and Astros). Beyond Dusty’s accomplishments and titles, he is a role model for the next generation of players and managers in the sport, proving that anyone from any nationality can accomplish anything. 

Baker made history when he became the 12th manager to reach 2,000 wins in early May. He received a great amount of support, including some from well-known former players like Barry Bonds, whom he managed in San Francisco.

After the game, Dusty talked about what this moment meant to him.

​​“It means extra to the culture. It means extra to society. It means extra to my race, and it means extra hopefully for others to get an opportunity [so] I’m not the last,” Baker said. “I’m probably one of the luckiest men to ever walk on this earth.” 

Baker now stands 10th all time on the manager leader-board after passing Bruce Bochy (2,003) and Leo Durocher (2,008) in the past two weeks. Out of the 12 managers on the 2,000-win list, 10 are in the Hall of Fame with Bochy and Baker soon to follow. 

Baker, as a manager, is an easy fan favorite and down-to-earth human, both on and off the field. The one elusive check he is missing on his resume is a World Series title as a manager. He has been close multiple times, including last season’s World Series appearance, but has yet to make it over the hump. He talks about his championship goals.

“I came back to win two — I didn’t come back to win one. I always said that if I win one, then I will win two. That’s just how I feel,” Baker said.

After a quarter of the 2022 season, the Astros remain one of the top teams in the American League, with a 24-14 record. It is clear that Baker has made a great impact on every team he has managed, including his current club.

Regardless of how many championships he ends up winning, one thing is for sure: Dusty Baker will go down as one of the most influential managers of color in the history of baseball.

Anna Laible is a 17-year-old aspiring broadcaster and journalist who writes for Sports Illustrated Kids, mlb.com, and she also hosts her own podcast called Speak Up Sports.

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