HOUSTON — Who is Dusty Baker?
The Houston Astros manager is a legend in the Major League Baseball world.
Editorial note: The above video is from a related story.
As Baker approaches his 2,000th win as a manager, we take a look at the road that led him to Houston.
"Dusty" was actually born Johnnie B. Baker Jr. He was the oldest of five children and got the nickname Dusty from his mother because he constantly played in a dirty spot in the backyard.
Baker was born in Riverside, California before moving to Sacramento to play baseball at Del Campo High School. He would forego college after being drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 1967.
Baker made his MLB debut for the Braves in 1968, playing in just six games for the Braves. He would make several appearances for the organization before becoming a mainstay on the roster in 1972.
Baker went on to play eight seasons for the Braves before joining the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1976. In LA, Baker would become a two-time All-Star in 1981-82 and won a World Series as a player in 1981.
He spent eight seasons with the Dodgers before joining the San Francisco Giants in 1984. He would only play baseball for two more seasons as a member of the Oakland Athletics in 1985 and 1986.
Baker finished his career with a .278 average, 1,981 hits, 242 home runs and 1,013 RBIs.
Baker re-joined the Giants as a coach in 1988. He eventually was hired as the full-time manager in 1993. Ironically, Baker's first season as manager was his winningest, as he finished with a record of 103-59.
He would eventually win NL Manager of the Year in 1993, 1997 and 2000.
A Wild Card berth in 2002 got Baker to win the NL pennant as manager, where the Giants would face the then Anaheim Angels in the 2002 World Series.
Baker and the Giants lost in seven games.
Baker left San Francisco as the winningest manager in franchise history (840-715), before that record was broken by Bruce Bochy.
Other stints as manager
Baker made other stops in his road to 2,000 wins.
After San Francisco, Baker joined the Chicago Cubs for four seasons. He would only make the playoffs in his first year in 2003.
He would take the year off in 2007 before returning to managing in 2008 with the Cincinnati Reds.
Baker led the Reds to postseason appearances in 2010, 2012 and 2013, before eventually being fired by Cincinnati.
The Washington Nationals hired Baker for the 2016 season. He would win 95 and 97 games with the Nationals, but postseason failures led to the team not bringing Baker back.
H-Town's new manager
Baker was hired to replace the outgoing A.J. Hinch in 2020.
In his first season with the Astros, Baker finished with a record of 29-31 during the shortened COVID-19 season.
Despite finishing under .500, the team made the postseason due to new rules, which helped Baker lead the team all the way to the ALCS. Houston eventually lost in seven games to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Baker led the Astros back to the World Series in 2021 after an incredible 95-67 season that saw many of his star players hurt and unable to contribute.
Houston took down the Chicago White Sox in the ALDS and the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS, before eventually losing in six games to Baker's old franchise, the Atlanta Braves.
Once he hits his 2,000th win, Baker will become the 12th manager to hit that milestone.
He can immediately get into the top-10 all time with 2,009 wins later this season.