Dusty Baker’s first black manager, 12th ever to hit 2K wins
Just call him Mr. 2,000.
Houston Astros coach Dusty Baker won his 2,000th game Tuesday night, becoming the 12th captain in major league history to reach the milestone and the first black man to do so.
The benchmark victory came from Houston’s 4-0 win over the Seattle Mariners and came more than 29 years after his first win on April 6, 1993, in San Francisco’s 2-1 win over St. Louis.
“I’m probably one of the luckiest men to ever walk this earth,” said Baker, grinning minutes after the final.
The 72-year-old Baker said being the first black manager to hit 2,000 wins makes the achievement all the more meaningful.
“It means extra,” he said. “It has a complementary meaning to the culture. It has additional meaning for society. It has added meaning to my race, and it means more hope for others to get a chance (so) I’m not the last. ”
It is the latest milestone in a career as a player and coach spanning more than 50 years. Baker has made it to the World Series twice as a manager, last season with the Astros and in 2002 with the Giants. As a player, he won three times with the Dodgers as a successful leftist in 1981.
So where do you rank this time?
“Right now it’s at the top,” he said, “But I’m not going to stop now.”
Ten of the other 11 managers who have accumulated at least 2,000 wins are in the Hall of Fame. Bruce Bochy (2,003), who has not yet qualified, is the only exception.
“This will lead straight to the Hall of Fame,” said Astros catcher Martín Maldonado.
Baker’s players presented him with a bottle of vintage Dom Pérignon 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 large white lettering.
Baker’s career record is 2,000-1,745, and he’s the only manager in major league history to bring five different teams to post-season.
He’s had 840 wins in 10 years with the Giants, 322 in 4 seasons with the Cubs, 509 in 6 years with the Reds, 192 in 2 seasons with the Nationals and 137 during his tenure with the Astros.
“I was just doing my job,” Baker said. “I’m still not proud of myself.”
He hit 500 wins while with the Giants in a 6-5 win over the Phillies on June 1, 1999. His 1,000th win came on August 30, 2004, while the Cubs manager took the win. 5-2 victory over Montreal. Won their 1,500th on May 9, 2012, with the Reds in a 2–1 win over Milwaukee.
“It is an honor to play for someone who loves the game and loves his team and is so knowledgeable about the game of baseball and who has had such a long career,” said the third player of the team. Houston, says Alex Bregman. “To be able to learn from him, to 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.”
There was a time when Baker wondered if he still had a chance to pursue this milestone. After being fired by the Nationals after a 97-win season in 2017, Baker didn’t get another job until 2020 after Houston’s sign-stealing scandal caused manager AJ Hinch to quit.
“If it weren’t for a scandal, I wouldn’t be in this position,” Baker said. “My phone is not ringing. Three different times I lost my job and twice I won, and I didn’t get a call in two years…so yeah, it’s just a matter of persistence. And here I am and I’m… where I’m supposed to be. “
Right-hand man Lance McCullers talks about Baker as a manager and a man, and notes the difficult situation he had to go through while being hired in Houston.
“He got us through a tough time as a club,” said McCullers. “There in 2020, we made it through a lot of choking waters (and) everything turned out. out after COVID. He has earned our respect. It was a big milestone for him tonight. Probably one of the most exclusive clubs around. “
Baker, who needs 41 wins to rise to ninth on the career list, was asked about breaking into the top 10.
“I will go there as long as I live,” he said. “It is my job. As long as I’m alive and as long as you just do your job – and it’s my job to win – then I’ll make it.”
Baker said the first thing he thought of after the final was being there when Bochy, a good friend, hit 2,000 wins. And then a second thought immediately popped into his head.
“That was the first thing that came to mind,” he said, “and the next thing that came to my mind was that I needed three more to (catch) Bruce.