Astros' Baker adds to illustrious resume with 2nd pennant
Dusty Baker is finally getting another chance at his elusive ring.
When the Houston Astros clinched their third American League championship in five seasons on Friday, Baker made a little history of his own. The veteran skipper became just the ninth manager to win pennants in both leagues.
Baker's only other appearance in the Fall Classic as a manager came in 2002 with the San Francisco Giants. He lost that series to the Anaheim Angels in seven games, and the Giants let Baker walk to the Chicago Cubs that offseason.
His 18-year gap between World Series appearances is the second-longest for any manager, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Only Hall of Famer Bucky Harris had a longer gap, going 21 years between 1925 - as a player-manager with the Washington Senators - and 1947 with the New York Yankees.
The 72-year-old is also the second-oldest manager to reach a World Series, trailing the Marlins' Jack McKeon by a few months, according to Sarah Langs of MLB.com.
Baker's experienced plenty of winning over his 24 years in the dugout. His 1,987 regular-season wins currently rank 12th all time, and he's the only skipper to win division titles with five different teams.
But his clubs have never been able to get over the hump in the postseason, and he's often drawn criticism for his tactics in the playoffs, including a couple of infamous Game 6 losses. Baker's 78 postseason games managed are currently the most for any skipper without a title.
After he was let go by the Washington Nationals in 2017, it looked like his career was nearing an end. But the Astros called when AJ Hinch was fired during the sign-stealing scandal fallout, and Baker has seamlessly guided the team through the two-year storm. In turn, his players are helping him close in on the only thing that's missing from his Hall of Fame-caliber resume.
"It's incredible," Baker said, according to Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. "Maybe I was supposed to come here to the H-Town. Everything worked out the way that God's plan worked out."