After Dusty Baker officially ended an incredible chapter in his storied career, he said Thursday that he felt compelled to do more for the game in his next phase.
Baker, 74, confirmed his retirement in a press conference at the end of his fourth season at the helm of the Houston Astros and that they are one win away from reaching the World Series for the third year in a row after losing on Monday to the Rangers. Texas in game 7 of the American League Championship Series.
He finished his career in ninth place in wins as a manager with 2,183 in 4,046 regular season games. He is the 12th manager in Major League history to reach 2,000 wins and the first African-American to do so.
Of the other 11 managers who reached 2,000 wins, 10 are in the Hall of Fame. Bruce Bochy (2,093), who leads the Rangers and is therefore ineligible, is the only exception.
Baker began his managerial career in 1993 after 19 seasons as an outfielder. He played with Hank Aaron in Atlanta and won the World Series with the Dodgers in 1981.
Baker said Thursday that attending Aaron’s funeral in 2021 will be eye-opening.
“All these people talk about how Hank contributed and helped them with their college education and how he changed this and other lives,” Baker said. “I went home and told my wife, ‘It looks like I didn’t do anything.'”
“I don’t know what to do, but I know it’s okay. I believe in it”.
Baker managed San Francisco, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati and Washington before coming to Houston and was heavily criticized for his style, but he is the only manager in history to lead five different teams to the postseason.
After his dismissal from the Nationals at the end of 2017 where they won 97 games, Baker wondered if he had one more chance and more than anything to win the elusive title.
That was the call from Astros owner Jim Crane after the sign-stealing scandal that cost AJ Hinch his job, and Baker was back in the dugout.
Baker took the reins during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. The Astros advanced to the playoffs as a wild card and were one win away from the World Series.
Baker finished with a 320-226 record with the Astros, leading them to the postseason in all four of his seasons, winning two league titles and a World Series.
Crane spoke directly to Baker at the press conference.
“A great example for everybody,” Crane said. “We love you and we will miss you. You came and helped us when we needed help. You did a great job. “Only you can do it.”
Houston is the sixth team to search for a manager since the end of the regular season, along with Cleveland, New York Mets, San Diego, San Francisco and the Los Angeles Angels. Only the Giants replaced the Padres’ Bob Melvin.