“I’m so happy it took this long because I would have been gone a long time ago, so you are affecting the lives of players and their families and that’s what it’s all about,” he said. said Baker on FS1 after the game.
To say he touched lives would be an understatement. There are so many extraordinary facets to the baseball life of Baker, who made his MLB debut at age 19 in 1968 and played until age 37 (1986).
Baker was the sport’s youngest manager when he was hired in December 1992 to lead the Giants in 1993. He was 43 and his only managerial experience was in the inaugural year of the Arizona Fall League in 1992. He had coached the Giants for five years prior to 1993, following a stint as an investment broker in 1987, which came after he retired after the 1986 season.
“I didn’t think it would happen so soon, even though I had planned to become a manager somewhere in five years,” Baker said during his presentation at a press conference in 1992. “I’m excited. I am excited.”
Thirty years later, he was talking exactly like that kid in 1992, saying, “Not anymore, now they’re gonna stop talking about it!” to finally win it all and not have to hear the stories anymore.
Let’s just talk about it one more time, to fully appreciate and contextualize Baker’s perseverance. Here are nine stats and facts about Baker’s first title as a manager.
• Winning a title isn’t entirely new to Baker, it’s just been a while. In 1981, Baker and the Dodgers won the franchise’s first title since 1965. He had been with the club in two previous playoff series, when the Dodgers lost to the Yankees in the 1977 and 1978 Fall Classics.
With that 22 title, Baker went 40 years between World Series victories. That’s the most years between winning back-to-back World Series as a player (at least one postseason game played) or coach, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The longest such span was 29 years, by Bob Lemon between a 1948 title with Cleveland as player and a 1978 title with the Yankees as manager. It’s true – we can quantify Baker’s persistence, and that makes it all the more admirable.
• Baker now has two titles spanning 41 years, from 1981 to 2022. No one in baseball history has ever seen his title-winning ways reach so many trips around the sun. The longest previous streak between the first and last World Series victory, regardless of the number of victories in the middle, belonged to Casey Stengel, per Elias. He won in 1922 as a player, then in 1949-53, 1956 and 1958, not to mention the Giants also won in 1921, although he did not make the playoffs.
• Baker is the seventh individual to win the World Series as both a player and a coach in the division era (since 1969). He joins Alex Cora, Joe Girardi, Davey Johnson, Lou Piniella, Dave Roberts and Mike Scioscia.
Won World Series as player AND manager, divisional era (since 1969):
Dusty Baker: 1981 as a player with LAD, 2022 as a manager with HOU
Alex Cora: 2007 as a player with BOS, 2018 as a manager with BOS
Joe Girardi: ’96, ’98-’99 as a player with NYY; 2009 as a manager with NYY
Davey Johnson: 1966, 1970 as player with BAL, 1986 as manager with NYM
Lou Piniella: 1977-78 as player with NYY, 1990 as manager with CIN
Dave Roberts: 2004 as a player with BOS, 2020 as a manager with LAD
Mike Scioscia: 1981, ’88 as player with LAD, 2002 as manager with ANA
• Let’s go back to this experience as a player. Although the Dodgers didn’t win it all in 1977, Baker had a stellar NLCS, hitting .357 with a 1.295 OPS and two homers in four games against the Phillies. The 28-year-old earned NLCS MVP honors. With the Astros’ title in 22, he is now the only individual to have won both a playoff MVP award and a World Series as a manager in his career, according to Elias. What a baseball life.
• At 73, Baker was already the oldest manager to reach the Fall Classic. Of course, that makes him the oldest to win one too. But wait, there’s more. He is not only the oldest World Series winning manager, he is the oldest manager or head coach in MLB, NBA, NFL or NHL history to have won a championship, according to STATS.
• How long has Baker been around? When he made his managerial debut on April 6, 1993, with the Giants, the opposing team’s first hitter was Geronimo Peña, the father of ALCS-winning Jeremy Peña and World Series MVP for the Astros this playoff. This exceptional connection was noted by Chris Kamka of NBC Sports Chicago.
• We talked in many ways about the fact that it was late in coming. Baker won the World Series in his 97th postseason game managed, which is the most at the time of Elias’ first decisive World Series victory. The previous mark belonged to Roberts, who won the 2020 World Series in his 65th postseason game at the helm. The 97 playoff games managed by Baker are fourth all-time, behind only Joe Torre (142), Bobby Cox (136) and Tony La Russa (132).
• It’s not just about waiting for the playoffs. This is also the time spent in the regular season. Baker managed 3,884 regular season games, the 10th all-time, which was also the most at the time of a coach’s first title. That distinction was previously held by Bruce Bochy, who had managed 2,574 regular season games since the 2010 playoffs when the Giants won it all.
• It is impossible to quantify how many baseball lives have been affected by Baker and his endurance in the game. But we can say this, thanks to Elias: 308 players have played at least one game with him and 558 have played at least one match with him as coach. That’s a lot of recipients for Baker’s wisdom.