The Washington Nationals named Dusty Baker as manager on Tuesday, agreeing to terms on a multi-year contract that makes him the sixth field manager in Nationals history. President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.
Baker, 66, brings nearly 50 years of professional baseball experience to the Nationals, including 20 years as a Major League manager, six as a coach, and a 20-year playing career that was highlighted by 19 decorated seasons in the Major Leagues.
A three-time National League Manager of the Year (1993, 1997, 2000), Baker is the 17th-winningest manager in baseball history, and his 1,671-1,504 career managerial record slots him second in the win column among active managers behind only San Francisco’s Bruce Bochy (1,702). Washington is Baker’s fourth managerial stop, coming to the Nationals after time in San Francisco (1993-2002), Chicago (2003-2006) and Cincinnati (2008-2013).
“We were looking for a manager to help us achieve our ultimate goal of competing for a World Series championship,” said Theodore N. Lerner, Managing Principal Owner of the Nationals. “During our broad search process we met with many qualified candidates, and ultimately it was clear that Dusty’s deep experience was the best fit for our ballclub.”
Baker, an All-Star, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, and World Series-winning player, has produced seven postseason teams during his 20-year managerial career, including five division championships (San Francisco, 1997 & 2000; Chicago, 2003; Cincinnati, 2010 & 2012), and two wild card appearances (San Francisco, 2002; Cincinnati, 2013). Baker, a coach for the 1989 Giants World Series team, managed the 2002 San Francisco Giants to the World Series, clinching the National League pennant over the St. Louis Cardinals in five games, before falling in seven games to the Los Angeles Angels. His 1,555 games and 840 victories with San Francisco rank second only to Hall of Famer John McGraw’s 4,405 games and 2,604 wins in Giants history, and his 2003-04 Cubs teams were the first to post consecutive winning seasons in Chicago since 1971-72.
As a player, Baker participated in the postseason four times (1977, 1978, 1981 & 1983), and played in three World Series (1977, 1978, 1981). He earned himself the National League Championship Series MVP award with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1977 (hitting .357 with a .438 on-base percentage and .837 slugging percentage in four games against Philadelphia), and a World Series ring, playing left field for the 1981 Dodgers.
”I am so pleased to welcome Dusty Baker to the Nationals family,” Rizzo said. “In getting to know Dusty and identifying what we wanted in the next on-field leader of our team, we are excited to have him on board. Dusty’s experience, as a winning player, coach, and manager, is vast and varied. We are excited to bring him to Washington and put his steady demeanor, knowledge and many years in the game to work in our favor. I think I speak for the entire organization when I say I am very much looking forward to working with him.”
Baker, a six-time All-Star (twice as a player: 1981 & 1982; three times as a member of the coaching staff: 1994, 1997 & 2001; once as manager: 2003), brings a wealth of experience to the manager’s seat in Washington. His teams have finished first or second 12 times in his 20 years, and won at least 90 games in a season on eight occasions.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the former outfielder is one of just six managers in MLB history to win a division title with at least three teams, joining former Nationals skipper Davey Johnson, Billy Martin, Lou Piniella, Joe Torre, and Tony LaRussa. He is also one of only four in MLB history to produce at least 1,500 hits as a player and win at least 1,500 games as a manager, joining Piniella, Torre and Fred Clarke on that list.
Born Johnnie B. Baker Jr. on June 15, 1949 in Riverside, Calif., “Dusty” Baker currently resides in California with his wife, Melissa, and has two children, Natosha and Darren. A 1967 graduate of Del Campo High School in Carmichael, Calif., Baker attended American River College in Sacramento, Calif. and was inducted into the Sacramento Sports Hall of Fame in 2013. Baker, who is a prostate cancer survivor (2001), served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve from 1969-75. Baker also has experience as a broadcaster, working for ESPN’s Baseball Tonight in 2007 and, most recently, for TBS as a studio analyst this past postseason.