Houston Astros’ Dusty Baker becomes first black coach to win 2,000 games, 12th to do so overall

Dusty Baker becomes the 12th coach in major league history to win 2,000 games – and the first black coach to reach the milestone – with Astros4-0 win Last Tuesday night Seattle Mariners in Houston.

It’s been more than 29 years since he won his first win on April 6, 1993, in San Francisco2-1 win over St. Louis.

“I’m probably one of the luckiest men to ever walk this earth,” grinning Baker said minutes after Tuesday’s final.

Baker’s players presented him with a bottle of vintage Dom Perignon champagne, which they signed with a gold marker to commemorate the achievement. The team toasted Baker with much more reasonably priced champagne in the clubhouse after the game.

His wife, Melissa, and a group of about 10 friends were at the ballpark. Melissa Baker smiled as she filmed her husband after the match in the stands as the big screen displayed an image of him with the words “2K Wins” in huge white lettering.

72-year-old Baker started his managerial career in 1993 with the Giants, and he has led five different teams – the Giants, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Citizens of Washington and the Astros – for the post-season, the only manager to achieve that feat. He’s also one of nine coaches to have won the pennant in both tournaments, leading the Giants to the World Series in 2002 and the Astros in 2021. His 40 career post-season wins are tied for a tie. eight all-time with Terry Francona.

With his iconic toothpick and wristband, Baker has been one of the most vivid characters in the game of the past three decades – on the cusp of a 19-year career as a player who witnessed he finished with 1,981 hits and 242 home runs.

Despite his 2,000 wins, his Hall of Fame case remains the subject of fierce debate. Of the 11 managers with more wins than Baker, 10 are in the Hall of Fame, with Bruce Bochy seen as a key to being elected when he’s eligible to vote in December 2023. The 10 Hall of Fame managers have more wins than Baker however, also have at least one World Series championship, while Bochy won three championships with the Giants.

Baker’s teams have failed in both of his World Series appearances and suffered a number of heartbreaking losses along the way – notably game 6 of the 2002 world series against the Giants, Game 6 of the 2003 National Championship series against the Cubs and game 5 of the 2016 NL Division Series against the Nationals, all potential games where his team led in the seventh inning or more.

However, Baker’s regular-season success makes him a strong contender for Hall, especially given his record of franchise rotation – or, in the case of the Astros, showing the stable presence following the organization’s sign theft scandal. As:

• The 1993 giants went from 72 wins the previous year to 103, even though they lost the NL West race first Atlanta Braves on the last day of the season.

• Cubs in 2003 went from 67 wins to 88 wins and won the NLCS.

• In Cincinnati, Baker took over the franchise in 2008, experienced seven consecutive losing seasons and returned to the knockout stages in 2010, and fell behind in 2012 and 2013.

• After he took over the Nationals in 2016, the team improved from 83 wins to 95 and won the NL East in both seasons Baker was in charge.

• He eventually took over the Astros in 2020 after the sign theft scandal led to the firing of AJ Hinch. Despite the loss of Gerrit Cole in free agent and Justin Verlander Post-injury, Baker led the Astros to the American League Championship Series in 2020 and to 95 wins and a World Championship in 2021.

Astros players say Baker’s 2,000-win milestone will make the Hall easy.

“This will lead straight to the Hall of Fame,” the catcher Martin Maldonado speak.

Added a third baseman Alex Bregman: “It’s been an honor to play for someone who loves the game and loves his team, is so knowledgeable about the game of baseball and who has such a long career. To be able to learn from him, play for him and just to be able to fit in with him every day is very special and nobody here takes it for granted.”

When the Giants hired Baker, he became only the seventh black coach in MLB history. After retiring as a player in 1986, Baker initially had no interest in management, but he eventually joined the Giants as first junior coach and later became a coach for four seasons, before replacing Roger Craig as coach after the 1992 season.

He is one of two Black managers in 2022, along with Dave Roberts of Los Angeles Dodgers.

“It means extra,” he said of becoming the first black manager to win 2,000 games. “It has an additional meaning to the culture. It has an additional meaning to society. It has an additional meaning to my race and it means adding hope to others to get a chance. festival [so] I’m not the last. ”

Baker is working on a one-year contract extension signed shortly after last year’s World Series loss.

“I just had some unfinished business to deal with,” he said at the time of the extension. “We’re coming to an end. We’re getting better every year. I thank the organization that gave us the pieces, thank you [general manager] James Click to add pieces at the right time and cohesion that we have on this team. I am very proud to be the team leader. “

If the Astros win the World Series this season under Baker, it will be another major milestone for him: At 73 years old as of World Series time, he will become the oldest coach to win the championship. enemy.

When asked where Tuesday’s time ranked, Baker stuck with the present but had a vision for the future.

“Right now it’s at the top,” he said. “But I won’t stop now.”

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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