Dusty Baker and Bruce Bochy have been managing against each other for the better part of the last two decades, their careers nearly running parallel.
Baker first became manager of the Giants in 1993, with Bochy hired by the Padres in 1995. Baker was fired by the Giants after the 2002 World Series; four years later, Bochy took over in San Francisco. Baker has since managed the Cubs, Reds and now Nationals; Bochy still remains with the Giants, owner of three World Series rings.
Along the way, the two have built up plenty of mutual respect.
“We know each other real well,” Baker said. “We were in the same division for a number of years when he was in San Diego and I was in San Francisco. Yeah, I’m real close to Bruce. When I lost my job in Cincinnati, he was the first one to call, wanted to know what happened, because we had just gone to the playoffs. I called him when I found out that he had some minor heart problems this summer. We duck hunt with the same friends up in Northern California.
“Yeah, me and Bruce go way, way back, and I’ve got nothing but respect for Bruce. We’ve been battling for a long time.”
And this weekend, as their teams square off in D.C., they’re battling neck-and-neck on an individual level.
Bochy currently has 1,835 career managerial wins, tied for 14th on the all-time list with Lou Piniella. Sitting directly behind them with 1,834 career wins? Baker, who has a chance to leapfrog both with a successful weekend series.
Bochy, who has managed continuously since 1995, has been in the dugout for more games (3,662) and thus has a worse winning percentage (.501) than Baker, who sat out two seasons between Cincinnati and Washington, has managed 3,451 games and owns a .532 winning percentage. (Piniella’s winning percentage sits in between at .517 over 3,548 games.)
Bochy, of course, has the one thing Baker has long lacked: three championships, which is why he’s a near-lock for Hall of Fame induction some day.
Baker was asked what makes Bochy such a good manager and answered in his typical folksy manner.
“I don’t think he has any fear,” Baker said. “And he knows what he’s doing. He’s got some brains in that big old head he got. He’s a smart man.”