WS is a win for Dusty Baker and Black managers

The Houston Astros leader becomes just the third African American to win a World Series as a manager

(News4usonline) – The World Series between the Houston Astros and the Philadelphia Phillies got a whole lot of attention before their best-of-seven series even got underway. And for all the wrong reasons. 

The World Series played between the Astros and the Phillies was the first since 1950 to not have any American-born Black ballplayers on either roster, a complete embarrassment to Major League Baseball, Houston manager Dusty Baker said.  

“Well, I don’t think that that’s something that baseball should really be proud of. It looks bad. It lets people know that it didn’t take a year or even a decade to get to this point,” Baker said prior to the World Series being played. 

“But there is help on the way. You can tell by the number of African American number one draft choices. The academies are producing players. So hopefully in the near future, we won’t have to talk about this any more or even be in this situation.”

With that stigma hovering over the World Series, Baker changed the narrative in his favor as he finally achieved a career-long chase of winning the World Series. After the Astros beat the Phillies in six games (4-2), Baker, who became the Black person to win 2,000 games as a major league manager, finally nailed down what he was brought to Houston to do. 

“Well, that’s why I’m here,” Baker remarked in a press conference prior to Game 1 of the World Series. “That’s why I’m glad that Jim Crane brought me back here, also to a place that — because most of the places I’ve been I’ve had to sort of rebuild the team, but this team was sort of built already, and I had to carry on and try to enhance what we already have here.”

He continued, “I don’t know. I’m just a ballplayer that’s trying to play ball and trying to win. I love to win. I’ve always said, if I win one, I want to win two, so you got to win one first and then we’ll work on number two at that time.”

After a successful stint as a player in the major leagues, Bakers spent the first 10 of his 25 years as a manager coaching up Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants. Bakers and Bonds came within one game of winning the 2002 World Series but were eventually denied by the Los Angeles Angels who beat them in seven games. 

Since that time, Baker has had tenures with the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Washington Nationals, and for the past three seasons leading the Astros. Houston had one of the best teams in MLB, recording a 106-56 mark during the regular season. 

The Astros went on to beat the Seattle Mariners in the American League Division Series (ALDS) before taking down the mighty New York Yankees in the American League (ALCS). Baker’s ballclub had to come back from a 2-1 deficit before rallying to win the next three games to lock up the series with a 4-2 advantage. 

Houston clinched the series with a 4-1 win against the Phillies in Game 6. Baker, who spent 19 seasons in the major leagues as a player (Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, and Oakland A’s) will now have a historical reference next to his name. 

Baker joins Cito Gaston of the Toronto Blue Jays and Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers as the only African Americans to lead their respective teams to World Series victory as managers. 

“Well, I thought about it a lot. I tried not to dwell on it, but tried to have faith and perseverance and knowing that with the right team and the right personnel and right everything that this is going to happen,” Baker said during his postgame press conference after Game 6. 

“Had this happened years ago, I might not even be here,” Baker added. “So maybe it wasn’t supposed to happen so that I could hopefully influence a few young men’s lives and their families and a number of people in the country through showing what perseverance and character can do for you in the long run. I’m hoping that I gave some people the same hope that my mom and dad gave me, that, you know, sometimes it’s not in your control sometimes because there were circumstances that happened in other postseasons or World Series or calls or balls that, you know, or guys that didn’t do this or did do that for and against us.”

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts became the second Black manager to win a World Series title . Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

As great of a feeling in winning the World Series, it’s been the journey to the mountaintop of his sport that has allowed Baker to be appreciative of the moment. 

“After a while, I quit listening to folks telling me what I can’t do,” said Baker. “ All that does is motivate me more to do it because I know there’s a bunch of people in this country that are told the same thing, and it’s broken a lot of people. But my faith in God and my mom and dad always talking to me made me persevere even more.”

Baker managed to persevere with the odds stacked against him as a Black manager. While he isn’t the first Black person to run an MLB ballclub (Frank Robinson first did it in 1975), Baker is among a very rare group of individuals to have been tapped and have had success as the head guy of a baseball team.     

“My mom, she told me a number of times, you know, like to be African American you got to be twice as good to achieve the same thing. I heard that over and over and over. And my dad would always tell me when I would get in fights and stuff and he would tell me, what would Jackie do? And I was like, you know, I’m not — and Jackie [Robinson] wasn’t a turn-the-cheek brother either. I’m damn sure not a turn-the-other-cheek dude, you know what I mean? But you learn to co-exist with different people in the workplace.”

Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

Baker’s career success and winning the World Series still doesn’t wipe away the zero existence of American Black ballplayers this season of playing on the biggest stage in baseball. Major League Baseball has a long way to go to streamline more American Black talent in the sport that Jackie Robinson integrated way back in 1947, but it’s going to take time for it to bear fruit, Baker said.  

“Well, a lot of progress needs to be made,” quipped Baker. “ I mean, it didn’t take overnight to get in this situation and it’s not going to take overnight to get out of this situation. I mean, you see how many draft choices, top draft choices, were African American. 

“I mean, they’re not going to rush all the kids up here at the same time if they’re not ready,” Baker added. “But you have to have them in the pipeline in order to have some. And you got to also have some African American coaches and managers in the pipeline to have more.”

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