Dusty Baker’s career is filled with many highs and lows as a player and manager. He’s had one of the longest careers, having joined Major League Baseball as a player in 1967. After his career ended, Dusty Baker became a manager in 1993. He retires as one of the most successful managers in the game. In this article, we reflect on Dusty Baker’s career.
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Dusty Baker’s Early Career
Born Johnie Baker Jr, he got the name ‘Dusty’ from his mother due to his fondness for playing in the dirt. The young Baker played multiple sports: basketball, baseball, football, and track sports. His father was a coach, and he played in his team but didn’t receive any privileges.
Perhaps Dusty Baker’s career wouldn’t have happened were it not for his father, who stopped him from quitting baseball. In high school, Baker excelled in all the sports he played and got a basketball scholarship.
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In 1967, Major League Baseball (MLB) side Atlanta Braves drafted him. This was the beginning of Dusty Baker’s career, although his father was infuriated by this decision. Nonetheless, he went on and played in minor leagues. Dusty played his first game against the Texas League and played nine games that year.
His first game for the senior team came in 1968. He played alongside the likes of Tito Francona, Rusty Staub, and Phil Niekro. Baker played for the side for seven years. In 1975, he asked to be traded. He found out that the club was moving on with it while on vacation.
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Dusty Baker’s First Playoffs
In 1976, Dusty Baker’s career continued with the Los Angeles Dodgers. As a child, he dreamt of playing for the team. In his first season, he was largely sidelined due to a hamstring injury.
The following year, Baker showed what he was made of. He perfected the art of getting the 30 home runs and stolen bases, much to the applause of the fans.
This made the Dodgers one of the best-hitting teams. This form took the LA Dodgers to the playoffs in 1977, the first in Dusty Baker’s career. The team won over the Phillies.
He was named the Most Valuable Player in the National League Championship Series (NLCS) after hitting eight runs. However, he didn’t win the World Series.
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World Series Champion
1980 was one of the most successful seasons of Dusty Baker’s career. He scored some of the best points on the field, having 29 homers and 97 runs.
He won the Silver Slugger Award, was named to his first All-Star Team, won the World Championship series, and won the Gold Glove.
The following year, the game of baseball changed. It was split into half, and Dusty Baker’s team won its division.
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After the 1983 season, Dusty Baker moved to the Sans Francisco Giants, where he played 100 games. The following year, he moved to the Oakland Athletics, which was the last club of his career. In 19 seasons, Dusty Baker played 2,039 games and made 242 home runs, 1,981 hits and 1,013 runs.
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After his successful playing career, Dusty Baker went into management. Before he landed his first job, Baker trained as a first-base coach and hitting coach. In 1993, the San Francisco Giants hired him.
He had a good showing, and, at one point, it seemed that he’d qualify for the World Series Championships. Unfortunately, the team endured a rough patch which saw them lose that grip.
This happened repeatedly with other teams he managed. They played well during the regular season but never reached the finals of the World Series:
Winning the World Series
Dusty Baker’s teams broke records and produced memorable performances. They won division titles but were eliminated in the playoffs. His player, Barry Bonds, broke one of the most coveted records in baseball. In 2001, Bonds hit a record of 73 runs, the most in a single season.
Baker won individual awards: National League Manager of the Year. However, the championship series was missing. It seems as though Dusty Baker stayed long enough for him to fulfill this wish. In 2020, he was named the manager of the Houston Astros.
His first two seasons were great, as he overturned the club’s fortunes. In 2022, Dusty Baker finally got his hands on another World Series.
After his long tenure as manager, the baseballer announced his retirement after the end of the 2023 season.
Dusty Baker’s career is one of resilience and determination. He had the winning formula, but when it didn’t work, he kept going. After winning the series, Baker said that he’d probably have left the game had he won the series earlier.
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