Astros’ Baker adds to illustrious resume with 2nd pennant

Dusty Baker is finally getting another chance at his elusive ring.

When the Houston Astros clinched their third American League championship in five seasons on Friday, Baker made a little history of his own. The veteran skipper became just the ninth manager to win pennants in both leagues.

Baker’s only other appearance in the Fall Classic as a manager came in 2002 with the San Francisco Giants. He lost that series to the Anaheim Angels in seven games, and the Giants let Baker walk to the Chicago Cubs that offseason.

His 18-year gap between World Series appearances is the second-longest for any manager, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Only Hall of Famer Bucky Harris had a longer gap, going 21 years between 1925 – as a player-manager with the Washington Senators – and 1947 with the New York Yankees.

The 72-year-old is also the second-oldest manager to reach a World Series, trailing the Marlins’ Jack McKeon by a few months, according to Sarah Langs of MLB.com.

Baker’s experienced plenty of winning over his 24 years in the dugout. His 1,987 regular-season wins currently rank 12th all time, and he’s the only skipper to win division titles with five different teams.

But his clubs have never been able to get over the hump in the postseason, and he’s often drawn criticism for his tactics in the playoffs, including a couple of infamous Game 6 losses. Baker’s 78 postseason games managed are currently the most for any skipper without a title.

After he was let go by the Washington Nationals in 2017, it looked like his career was nearing an end. But the Astros called when AJ Hinch was fired during the sign-stealing scandal fallout, and Baker has seamlessly guided the team through the two-year storm. In turn, his players are helping him close in on the only thing that’s missing from his Hall of Fame-caliber resume.

“It’s incredible,” Baker said, according to Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. “Maybe I was supposed to come here to the H-Town. Everything worked out the way that God’s plan worked out.”

He’s back, at long last. Nineteen years after Dusty Baker guided the Giants to a World Series berth in 2002, the storied manager is finally back in the Fall Classic, this time with the Astros.

There are so many extraordinary facets to the baseball life of Baker, who was the youngest manager in the sport when he was hired in December 1992 to helm the Giants in ‘93. He was 43 and his only managerial experience was in the inaugural year of the Arizona Fall League in 1992. He’d been a Giants coach for five years prior to ‘93, following a stint as an investment broker in 1987, which came after he retired from playing following the ‘86 season.

“I didn’t think it would happen this soon, although I had a plan that I would be a manager somewhere in five years,” Baker said when introduced at a news conference in ‘92. “I’m excited. I’m psyched.”

Even then, Baker was uniquely himself — the same individual who said, on set with FS1 after the Astros’ 5-0 win in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night at Minute Maid Park, that he’s “a cool 72 [years old].”

Astros clinch World Series berth
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • LinkedIn

Here are seven incredible facts about Baker’s return to the World Series:

  1. As mentioned above, this has been a long time coming for Baker, who last managed in the World Series in 2002 with San Francisco, which lost in seven games to the Angels. It has been 19 seasons since then. His son, Darren — who was notably saved from a collision at home plate by J.T. Snow in that ‘02 Series as a youngster — is now a 22-year-old Minor Leaguer for the Nationals after playing college ball at the University of California, Berkeley. The only manager with a longer stretch between World Series appearances was Bucky Harris, who managed the 1925 Senators in the World Series, then did not return to the Fall Classic until 1947 with the Yankees, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Dusty Baker on clinching pennant
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • LinkedIn

  1. Another facet of that time passing? The fact that Baker has, of course, aged in that span. He’ll be 72 years and 133 days old on Tuesday, for World Series Game 1. That will make him the second-oldest manager to reach the Fall Classic, younger than only Jack McKeon — who was 72 years and 329 days old for Game 1 with the 2003 Marlins. McKeon’s Marlins won that World Series, which means Baker would be the second oldest to win a title, should the Astros win four more games this fall.

Dusty Baker on pennant clinch
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • LinkedIn

  1. When the Astros clinched the AL West, Baker became the first manager to guide five franchises to a division title — having done so with the Giants, Cubs, Reds and Nationals as well. With this AL pennant, he becomes just the ninth manager to win a pennant in both leagues, joining Sparky Anderson, Yogi Berra, Al Dark, Tony La Russa, Jim Leyland, Joe Maddon, Joe McCarthy and Dick Williams.
  1. Now that Baker is back in the World Series, the question becomes whether he can finally win his first title. He has managed 78 postseason games, the most by any manager yet to win a World Series, and the fifth-most playoff games managed overall. In the regular season, he’s been at the helm for 1,987 wins, also the most among those yet to win a title, and the 12th-most overall.
    1. Between World Series appearances, Baker managed 54 postseason games — from the 2003 Cubs through Game 6 of this year’s ALCS. That’s the most postseason games managed between World Series games, surpassing a 48-game stretch by La Russa between a 1990 AL pennant with the A’s and a 2004 NL pennant with the Cardinals, according to Elias.

    Baker in search of WS title
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Google+
    • LinkedIn

    1. Dave Roberts, who won the World Series with the Dodgers last year in his 65th postseason game managed, holds the record for most career playoff games managed at the time of his first World Series-clinching victory, according to Elias. That means Baker would set a record if the Astros win it all, given that he will have managed at least 82 games (four more than his current total) if that were to happen. As mentioned above, this has been a long time coming.
    1. And what about regular-season games? Baker has managed 3,722 games in the regular season, 12th most in history. Only one manager has been at the helm for more games without winning a title: Gene Mauch, who managed 3,942 games. So where would Baker’s 3,722 rank for a manager before a first title? Also first, of course. The current record holder is another NL West manager: Bruce Bochy, who managed 2,574 regular-season games before the Giants won the 2010 World Series, his first at the helm.

    Dusty Baker

    Dusty Baker
    Dusty Baker in 2017 (33735309423) (cropped).jpg
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Google+
    • LinkedIn

    Baker with the Nationals in May 2017
    Houston Astros – No. 12
    Outfielder / Manager
    Born: June 15, 1949 (age 72)
    Riverside, California
    Batted: Right
    Threw: Right
    MLB debut
    September 7, 1968, for the Atlanta Braves
    Last MLB appearance
    October 4, 1986, for the Oakland Athletics
    MLB statistics
    Batting average .278
    Home runs 242
    Runs batted in 1,013
    Managerial record 1,983–1,728
    Winning % .534
    Teams
    As player

    As manager

    As coach

    Career highlights and awards

    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Google+
    • LinkedIn

    Johnnie B. “Dusty” Baker Jr. (born June 15, 1949) is an American Major League Baseball manager who currently manages the Houston Astros. A former major league player, he had a 19-year career as a hard-hitting outfielder, primarily with the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers. He helped the Dodgers to pennants in 1977 and 1978 and to the World Series championship in 1981. He previously managed the San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, and Washington Nationals. He led the Giants to the 2002 National League pennant and the Astros to the 2021 American League pennant while leading each team he managed to the postseason.

    In 2020, he was hired to manage the Houston Astros on a one-year contract. In his first year with the Astros, Baker became the first MLB manager to lead five different teams to the playoffs. The next year, he led them to the American League West title, thereby making him also the first manager to win a division title with five different teams; he then managed them to a victory in the ALCS to become the ninth manager to win pennants in both leagues. At the age of 72, he is the second oldest manager to appear in a World Series. In addition, Baker is one of six managers to reach the postseason at least eleven times.