Dusty Baker, the manager of the Houston Astros, reached a huge career milestone on Tuesday. Baker became the 12th MLB manager — and the first Black manager — to achieve 2,000 career victories with the Astros’ 4-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners.
The accomplishment is important since practically all of the 11 managers with more victories have been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The lone exception is former San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who retired in 2019 and will almost certainly be inducted into the Hall of Fame once he is eligible.
Astros teammates marked the occasion by giving Baker a signature bottle of champagne.
Baker is the 12th manager in history to achieve 2,000 career victories. Ten of the previous 11 players to accomplish the feat are members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Bruce Bochy, on the other hand, is not yet qualified.
Baker has managed the San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Washington Nationals, and Houston Astros over a 25-year career.
He is the only manager in MLB history to have led five separate teams to the playoffs and won division titles with five different teams. His clubs have made the playoffs 11 times, and he has managed in the World Series twice (2002 with the Giants and 2021 with the Astros).
“It feels great whenever you reach a goal,” said Baker, sitting in his postgame press conference next to a bottle of champagne, “I didn’t really have this goal until, I don’t know, four or five years ago, when I realized I had a chance.”
Baker’s first win was on April 6, 1993, when the Giants won in St. Louis against the Cardinals. All five teams that he has managed advanced to the postseason.
“I think about Hank Aaron and Jackie Robinson and Frank Robinson, who helped me a lot, Bill Walsh, all the general managers and owners I’ve had, whether they fired me eventually or not,” Baker said.
“It just sort of added to my perseverance and determination and faith. I’ve also got to thank my detractors for giving me the motivation to go on because there’s a lot of people that doubted me in the beginning when I first got the job with no experience, a lot of them that doubted me even though I was winning.”
He is just one of two people in MLB history to have 1,800 hits as a player and 1,800 wins as a manager. The other is Joe Torre.
On the same night, Baker’s son, Darren, hit a walk-off sacrifice fly (when a hitter hits a ball high into the air to the outfield or foul area, allowing a runner to score) for the Wilmington Blue Rocks in a 3-2 victory over the Bowling Green Hot Rods.