Dusty Baker was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 1967. He was unsure he wanted to play in the deep south in a city that was one of the epicenters of the civil rights movement. That changed when Hank Aaron called his mother to talk to her about that. 54 years later he is still part of MLB. He has mentored countless players, coaches, and managers…and was himself mentored by Aaron.
Fun fact: Baker was the batter on deck when Hank hammered home run #715 to break Babe Ruth’s record. He this had the privilege of being the first to offer his congratulations when Aaron crossed the plate.. (See the featured photo.)
Baker was a very good ballplayer. He had a .278 batting avg (OPS+ 116), 242 homers, 2 All Star nods (really should have had 3 others—1980 when he was 4th in NL MVP voting, for example), a Silver Slugger, a Gold Glove, and a World Series ring with the 1981 ”Fernandomania” Dodgers. A career to be proud of although short of HoF standards.
No, why he deserves to be in the Hall is due to his achievements as a manager. Granted he hasn’t won a World Series as a manager, and that might be critical to those who don’t understand winning one series is as much fortune/chance as anything else. Here’s the list of managers who have guided 5 separate teams to the playoffs in MLB history: Dusty Baker. He’s one of only 9 to win a pennant in both the AL and NL. His 1,987 career wins ranks him 12th all time; win #54 by the Astros next season will move him to #9. There’s only one manager currently ahead of him on the wins list not in the HoF: Bruce Bochy…and I bet he gets in when the Today’s Game committee meets either next year or in 2024. He’s won his league’s Manager of the Year award 3 times, and finished in the top 3 four other years.
Another ”fun” fact—I know of no other manager to have been fired after a 90+ win season twice.