It was hard to root for the Houston Astros in last fall’s World Series. The cheating scandal of a few years back still hadn’t faded. But one thing that wasn’t hard to do was to root for Johnnie B. “Dusty” Baker.
Dusty Baker had a long and productive 19-year career as a power-hitting outfielder for the Braves and the Dodgers. I remember him well against my Yankees in the 1977, 1978 and 1981 World Series. He was a dangerous right-handed hitter, usually batting cleanup in a very potent LA lineup. Although Reggie Jackson stole the show in the 1977 World Series, Baker was a steady force for the Dodgers hitting .292 after an MVP performance against the Phillies in the NLCS.
In game one of the 1978 World Series Baker had three hits as the Dodgers pounded the Yanks 11-5. But it was not until 1981 that Dusty finally found the promised land as the Dodgers became World Champions defeating the Yankees four games to two with Baker contributing 2 hits in the deciding sixth game.
As solid as Baker was as a player he is better known today for his successful career as a manager. Baker has managed for 25 years winning over 2,000 games with a .539 winning percentage. His steady competent managerial style was on hand in his very first assignment as he led the San Francisco Giants to 103 victories in 1993, falling short of the divisional title by one game to the red-hot Atlanta Braves.
Altogether Baker won eight divisional titles over his years managing the Giants, the Reds, the Cubs and the Astros and was National League Manager of the Year three times—winning the NL pennant three times, a World Series title eluded him. But it was this past year that Baker’s long years of dedication, hard work and baseball wisdom got him to the top. Having taken over the scandal-ridden Houston Astros in 2020 Baker righted the ship and provided solid guidance to a young talented team looking to move beyond their franchise’s past troubles. And it was Baker’s excellent leadership that propelled the Astros to their first untainted championship. The decisive four games to two victory by Houston over Philadelphia was Dusty Baker’s finest moment.
After 41 years Dusty Baker is once again a World Champion, an honor he truly deserves and one all fans of the national pastime can cheer.
One thought on “Dusty Gets His Due”
I, too, was conflicted about the last World Series. I hate the Astros, because (1) I still hold a grudge about them cheating their way to a championship, and (2) I’m a longtime Rangers fan, and we just hate the Astros, anyway. But, I was happy for Dusty. He’s a good manager and a good man.