The trailblazer is now immortal.
On the heels of Jackie Robinson’s 75th anniversary of breaking the color barrier, the ultimate bro made history. In his 25th year as a big league manager, Astros head man Dusty Baker became the first Black manager to record his 2000th with a shutout win on Tuesday beating the Seattle Mariners 4-0.
Baker is only the 12th manager in MLB history to win 2000 games, joining Connie Mack, Tony La Russa, John McGraw, Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, Sparky Anderson, Bucky Harris, Joe McCarthy, Walter Alston, Leo Durocher and Bruce Bochy – 10 of those managers are enshrined at Cooperstown.
So we here at MLBbro believe that it’s time to pay tribute to the man, the myth and now…the legend. Actually, this is long overdue.
Baker is a California native and the oldest of five. He earned the nickname “Dusty” from his mother because he would always play in a dirt spot in their backyard. Baker excelled in baseball, basketball, football, and track at Del Campo High School and was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 1967.
Like many managers in the majors, Baker started as a player. His career spanned 19 years from 1968-86; his most notable stints were with the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers. During his tenure with the Dodgers he was a two-time All-star and Golden Glove winner. He appeared in three World Series with a ring in 1981.
Baker’s old-school philosophy was simple yet impactful. He saw the value in mentoring and teaching his players. “He knew how to handle every type of player, from a rookie to the biggest superstars, such as Barry Bonds,” – according to former manager Cito Gaston, the first Black manager to win a World Series.
“A lot of managers manage, but they don’t teach. And Dusty is a teacher. You can tell. I know that about him,” said Gaston. “The way he treats his players, Dusty certainly respects them. He certainly has their back.”
Building trust is big for Baker, and he expects it from both sides. “I played for him — and there’s a lot of guys that have played for him — you want to win for Dusty. He puts so much effort into it, it’s hard not to root for a guy like that,” said Blue Jays outfielder George Springer, who played for Baker in 2020.
Every team Baker has managed has gone on to the postseason under his watch. That’s five different ball clubs – another first!
There are still many who believe that his “old school” philosophy is not versed well in modern day baseball; which is why some say Baker has still not won a World Series. However, for Baker, it’s more than just victories that makes him one of the best managers in MLB history.
Baker knows of the high pressure he faces as a Black coach in the majors. “If you’re an African American, if you don’t win it all, you’re considered a failure, you know what I mean?” Baker says.
Baker spoke out just this past January on Black representation in baseball. In the article, he discusses how under-represented Blacks are as managers; with he and Dave Roberts as the only two African-American MLB coaches in all of baseball. He believes that with a larger pool of black managers, black players will follow. Currently, Black baseball players only make up 7 percent of the league and that number needs to increase.
Baker is a leader, he is a baseball purist. He believes in setting his players up for success, he has a spiritual way of connecting with them. “As one of the most successful managers in baseball history, Dusty is a trailblazer, a winner, and an example of how Black managers can succeed in leading teams for decades,” said CC Sabathia.
When you can call somebody by just one name and you know who it is, that’s a sign of true greatness. Baker’s milestones are a testament to his perseverance – a true inspiration for all Black managers.