Dusty Baker and Tony La Russa have a combined 68 years of managerial experience and 4,703 wins between them, including Thursday night’s 10-2 win by the Astros over the White Sox.
Baker, the most accomplished African-American manager in MLB history, and La Russa made history in the first meeting between two managers over the age of 70 in the modern era (1900).
MLBbro and All-Star candidate Michael Brantley set the tone with a three-run blister to give the Astros a 3-0 lead and they never looked back.
These guys are meeting for the first time as 70-year-olds, but they have a long history of battling between the lines and from the top step.
This is their fourth freakin’ decade coaching against each other. Most people don’t know their spouses that well. However, it is the first time in a decade and there were certainly some senior citizen bragging rights at stake.
All jokes aside, these guys are still sharp as swords. Like the masters in the old Wu-Tang videos who looked 100 but were untouchable in hand-to-hand combat against younger, stronger adversaries.
The Astros are now 40-28 and just two games behind the Oakland A’s in the AL and are one of just five teams in the American League with 40 wins.
The Chicago White Sox are 43-26 and share the American League’s best record.
This meeting of the minds didn’t live up to its potential as the Sox had an off night and the Astros bats continue to torch teams led by Jose Altuve who has 9 homers this month.
Expect to see both of these teams in the playoffs and the senior citizens at the helm will both be at the top of their games if they happen to meet.
It would be quite a show to see old Dusty going head up and matching wits with the three-time World Series mastermind.
Both managers have taken teams with talent and elevated them to the next level. True contenders.
Baker has seamlessly taken over for former disgraced manager AJ Hinch and helped the Astros regain some integrity along the way.
As long as the Astros continue to win games under Dusty’s leadership, Houston’s front office will look like geniuses to the fans and the rest of baseball for bringing in the OG skipper and further separating the front office and ownership from the World Series scandal that rocked MLB.
MLBbro.com is always celebrating the exclusive Black Ace fraternity and educating people on exactly what a Black Ace is.
Those conversations — about Black excellence in pitching and the pioneers of the game — always lead back to former Major League Baseball all-star pitcher Jim “Mudcat” Grant, who made it his business to chronicle how incredible an accomplishment it is for a Black pitcher to win 20 games.
Grant is the first African-American 20-game winner in the American League (Minnesota Twins, 1965) and the first African-American to win a World Series Game in the American League (1965).
Mudcat passed away on Saturday at the age of 85, leaving MLB with another lost icon.
The entire Minnesota Twins organization is saddened by the death of former pitcher Jim “Mudcat” Grant, who passed away at the age of 85. RIP Mudcat. pic.twitter.com/C5I9Bap9Yo
Via thewrap.com,“Grant spent seven seasons with the Cleveland Indians at the start of his pitching career, then got traded to the Minnesota twins in 1964 where he would go on to blossom into an ace pitcher the following season. Grant went 21-7 with a 3.30 ERA. Grant played for the Twins for four seasons and also played for the Oakland A’s, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Montreal Expos and Pittsburgh Pirates.
Grant retired in 1971 with a record of 145-119 and 54 saves.
Grant was born in 1935 in Lacoochee, Florida where he went on to become a two-sport athlete in baseball and football, at Florida A&M.”
What’s A Black Ace?
Mudcat is the leader of an exclusive fraternity that hasn’t had a member enter since 2012, when Price went 20-5 for the Toronto Blue Jays.
The book is a historically accurate description of the lives of the thirteen African-American 20-game winners in the Majors that existed when the book was released in 2007.
The 15 Black Aces
Canadian-born Ferguson Jenkins won 20-games or more a remarkable seven times (1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974)
Bullet Bob Gibson did it five times (1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970)
Dave Stewart did it four times (1987, 1988, 1989, 1990)
Don Newcombe (1951, 1955 and 1956), and Vida Blue (1971, 1973, 1975) both won 20 or more games three times.
Dontrelle Willis (2005), CC Sabathia (2010), David Price (2012), Al Downing (1971), Dwight Gooden (1985), Sam Jones (1959), Mike Norris (1980), J.R. Richard (1976), Earl Wilson (1967) and of course, Mudcat Grant (1965) all did it once.
Respect Dave Stewart
Dave Stewart is the last Black pitcher to post multiple 20-win seasons. To put this into perspective, in the history of Major League Baseball only five black pitchers have eclipsed the 20 wins mark multiple times in a career.
Two of the five are in the Baseball Hall of Fame: Jenkins, who won more than 250 games in a 14-year career, and Gibson, who did it five times in a span of only six years. Gibson was so unhittable in 1968, that MLB lowered the mound to make it easier for hitters to deal with such Black dominance
Newcombe of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who was the first black pitcher to ever win 20 (1951), and Vida Blue of the Oakland Athletics during the 1970s, each reached the achievement three times.
Price and CC are the last of MLB’s Black Aces.
Sabathia went 21-7 with the Yankees in 2010 after signing a huge free agent deal and then leading the Yankees to their first World Series in almost a decade in 2009. Price went 20-5 as the ace workhorse for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2012.
With the way pitching philosophy and culture have changed in the past decade, we may never see another Black or Brown 20-game winner again. So we must hold all Black Aces in the highest esteem because it’s one of the rarest achievements in baseball.
We also must remember and cherish the memory of Mudcat Grant, a pioneer who endured and defeated way more than just prolific hitters, in order to secure his legacy.
We can never overlook the racism and the excruciatingly volatile circumstances that these pitchers had to perform under.
Never performing on an even playing field. Always having to be superhuman almost, just to do the simple things that their white counterparts took for granted.
Lighters, glasses, hands up in the air for a true sports icon. RIP Mudcat.
The art of stealing bases is a skill that’s synonymous with the Black Athlete. The Top 15 greatest bag swipers in MLB history (After Jackie Robinson integrated the game) are all African-American, with the exceptions of Cuban speedster Bert Campaneris and Brett Butler, who is an aberration — like the Larry Bird of base stealing.
Once they started letting brothers in the game, it became a skill that is dominated yearly by the African-American or Afro-Latino athlete. (There are six MLBbros in the Top 20 in stolen bases so far this season.)
The Best To Ever Do It
1. Rickey Henderson
Simply the greatest base-stealing technician that ever lived with 1,406 steals on his resume. Henderson is the only player to ever eclipse 1,000 swipes for a career. Marinate on that for a sec.
Pretty Rickey swiped 66 bases at the age of 40 and stole 31 at the age of 44, never deviating from his classic head-first slide.
He led the American League in stolen bases from 1980-1991. His combination of speed, power and bat savvy makes him hands down the greatest leadoff hitter to ever put on spikes, but also one of the deadliest multi-faceted weapons MLB has ever seen. A dynamic five-tool package with golden legs, unapologetic swag and soul.
2. Lou Brock
“Lightening” Lou Brock was the blueprint for the emergence of Rickey Henderson. In the ’60s and ’70s, the eight-time NL stolen base king played with the St. Louis Cardinals. With Brock on the move, pitchers saw nothing but streaks of red flying by them. He had 938 swipes in his career.
Brock was the standard-bearer for stolen base supremacy before Henderson obliterated his record, but due to the way the game has changed, Brock’s second-place position on the all-time list is pretty safe.
It takes a rare athlete, executing a combination of supreme athleticism and profound intellect to steal 50 bases for 12 straight seasons as Brock did from 1965-76. A Tribe Called Quest gives Brock a shout on their classic hip-hop joint Check the Rhyme.
3. Tim Raines
Nobody in the ’80s rocked a Jheri Curl better than Rock Raines, who also knew how to handle a bat as evidenced by his 2,605 hits and .294 career batting average.
As a leadoff missile, his stolen base prowess made him a lethal weapon. Raines swiped over 70 bases each season from 1981-86 and he led the NL in steals from 81-84, until Vince Coleman hit the scene.
ROCK RAINES WAS READY ALL THE TIME
Raines, a 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, was not only multi-faceted and down to pound the pavement for a bag, but he was the most precise base stealer among the sultans of swipe, finishing his big league career with the best-stolen base percentage (84.7) of any player with 400-plus steals.
4. Maury Wills
Wills is one of the most underrated players in history and egregiously still hasn’t been voted into the Hall of Fame. He won six consecutive National League stolen base crowns (1960-65). His 50 steals in 1960 marked the first time an NL player had eclipsed the half-century mark in swipes since Max Carey in 1923.
Wills is known as the principal offensive weapon of the Dodgers three championship squads between 1959 and 1965. Wills gained fame and respect as a stolen base king by swiping 104 bases in 1962, eclipsing a 47-year-old MLB record.
MAURY WILLS REFLECTS ON HOW THE SPIRIT OF JACKIE ROBINSON HELPED HIM ENDURE RACISM WHILE HE WAS A PLAYER
5. Vince Coleman
Coleman stormed the MLB scene winning NL Rookie of the Year in 1985, swiping 110 bases.
He swiped over 100 again for the next two seasons before tailing off with seasons of 81, 65 and 77 steals for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Coleman never stole more than 50 again after leaving St. Louis and he once said he didn’t know who Jackie Robinson was, but his bag-swiping omnipotence didn’t allow me to exclude him for his ignorance.
VINCE COLEMAN JOINS EXCLUSIVE 100-STEAL CLUB
Honorable Mention: Jackie Robinson (King of Stealing Home), Joe Morgan (HOF, 608 career steals), Luis Aparicio (HOF, nine-straight AL stolen base titles)