Johnnie B. “Dusty” Baker Jr. (1949- )

Dusty Baker in 1991
Dusty Baker in 1991
Photo by Jerry Reuss (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Johnnie B. “Dusty” Baker Jr. is currently the baseball manager of the Houston Astros and a former major league player. Baker was born on June 15, 1949, to Johnnie B. Baker Sr. and Christine Baker in Riverside, California. Growing up, Baker played various sports, including baseball and basketball. When he was 14, his family moved to Sacramento, California. Baker attended Del Campo High School in Fair Oaks, California, and excelled in baseball, basketball, football, and track. Baker graduated from Del Campo High School in 1967.

After graduating high school, Baker was drafted by the Major League Baseball team, the Atlanta Braves. He made his debut with the Braves a year later in 1968. He played for the Braves until the end of the 1975 season, when he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Baker’s best season with the Dodgers came in 1981 when he was selected to play in his first MLB All-Star Game. He also received the Silver Slugger Award and the Gold Glove Award that year.

Baker in 1974
 Baker in 1974 with the Atlanta Braves, Photo in Public Domain (CC0)

Baker played with the Dodgers in the 1981 World Series against the New York Yankees and defeated them in six games. Baker made his second MLB All-Star appearance the following season and remained with the Dodgers until the end of the 1983 season. He then signed with the San Francisco Giants for the 1984 season. One year later, he signed with the Oakland Athletics and played there until the end of the 1986 season, when he retired at the age of 37.

In 1993, Baker became the manager of the San Francisco Giants. During his time as manager, the team won two division titles, in 1997 and 2000. He won National League Manager of the Year in 1993, 1997, and 2000, all with the Giants. Baker became the manager of the Chicago Cubs during the 2003 season and remained with them until 2006. This was followed by stints as manager of the Cincinnati Reds (2008-2013) and Washington Nationals (2016-2017). In 2020, Baker became manager of the Houston Astros, and two years later, in 2022, the Astros defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in six games in the 2022 World Series.

Baker became the third African American manager to win a World Series after Clarence Edwin “Cito” Gaston, manager of the Toronto Blue Jays (1992 and 1993), and David Ray “Doc” Roberts, manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers (2020). Baker also became the seventh person in Major League history to win a World Series championship as a player and a manager. Baker is also the only manager in MLB history to reach the playoffs and win a division title with five different teams.

Baker was once married to Alice Lee Washington, and the couple had a daughter, Natosha Baker. The couple later divorced, and Baker then married Melissa Esplana in 1994. The couple would have a son, Darren Baker, who played with the Washington Nationals.