Dusty Baker proves that great generals win by controlling the love of their troops, not their fear.
Baker, manager of the Houston Astros, is one of the finalists Dallas Morning News Texan General because, with the tireless patience and infectious good spirits that characterize a man, he has redeemed a franchise and a city. His recent hit, which led the Astros to a World Series victory over the Philadelphia Phillies, was as a major black on the baseball field.
Dusty, whose real name is Johnny Baker, got his nickname playing in the backyard his father, an Air Force technician, planted in Riverside, California. Rolling grass as a play area. He never lost that willingness for the bolder side of things.
This embrace has stood in the way of his playing and coaching careers. He was the cornerstone of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ late-1970s run against the New York Yankees, losing twice in the fall classic to the vintage Yanks. Baker earned National League Most Valuable Player honors during these hardships. Finally, in 1981, the Dodgers won the World Series.
Many think of Baker as His Gray Highness, but he was the youngest coach in baseball when he took over the San Francisco Giants in 1992. Baker endured the added pressure of being one of the first black coaches in the game; He was still playing when Frank Robinson broke the color barrier in 1975.
Baker took the Giants to the World Series in 2002, losing in the most painful way – Game Seven. His charismatic nature made many people attracted to him, even when his chance to become a champion seemed to pass after the coach missed him.
When the Houston Astros became the game’s most hated franchise in the wake of the 2019 sign-stealing scandal, they wisely turned to one of the most beloved men in the game. Baker led the team to the brink, losing to the Atlanta Braves in 2021. This year, a full 41 years after his last World Series ring, Baker became the oldest coach ever to win a major sports title when he brought the Houston Astros over the top.
And this time, no one could envy the Houston Astros for their glory.
Becker’s coaching style has always been that of seniors. He wouldn’t break a team by yelling at them. He would raise their spirits with “Dustyisms,” such as the story of his father leaving him up in a tree for three hours. “I climbed up into that tree, so you can figure out how to get down from the tree,” Baker retold to MLB Network.
Baker wins the loyalty of his troops with measured actions. When his players mention food preferences like banana pudding or foxtail, Baker stocks their lockers with the stuff to make them feel at home on the road. Who wouldn’t fight for a man like that?
For making champions out of the Astros and exemplifying great leadership in the dugout, Dusty Baker is a finalist for Texans Trophy of the Year.
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