Dusty retires as 7th-winningest manager in history

Baker caps 26-year tenure with 4 ALCS appearances, 2 pennants, WS title in Houston

October 26th, 2023

HOUSTON -- Wearing his 2022 World Series championship ring and his familiar smile, Dusty Baker spoke fondly about his four years in Houston while turning his attention to the next chapter of his remarkable baseball life. At 74 years old, he feels he has more to give the game and society, but his time in a Major League uniform is over after more than 50 years.

Baker, who came out of retirement in 2020 and led the Astros to two trips to the World Series, including his first championship as a manager in '22, announced his retirement Thursday at Minute Maid Park. He said he wants to remain involved in the game but will return home to California to spend time with his family, which includes a pair of grandkids.

“It was probably the quickest four years I've ever spent in my life,” said Baker, who was joined at the press conference by his wife, Melissa. “But that's what happens when you win. … They were winning when I got here, winning while I was here and I wish them well.”

Baker finishes his 26-year career as one of the most accomplished managers in history with a résumé that includes 2,183 wins in the regular season, which is the seventh-most in history. He won division titles with five different teams and led teams to pennants in both leagues -- the Giants in the National League in 2002, and the Astros in the American League in 2021-22.

“I hope it’s in better shape now than when I got here, and they were in great shape then,” Baker said. “I want to thank Jim Crane for having faith in me.”

Crane, the Astros’ owner, brought in Baker to guide the club during a firestorm of controversy. Crane had just dismissed manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow -- the architect of Houston’s 2017 World Series championship team -- in the wake of the sign-stealing scandal. One of the most revered men in the game, Baker served as a calming influence and a respected voice.

“You came in and helped us when we needed some help, and you did a great job,” Crane said. “And I think you are the only guy that can do that in the business. You did a fantastic job, and the record speaks for itself. You will be missed. I know the players will miss you. Always got a smile on his face, always got something cool to say. You’re a great guy and a great friend and thank you very much for what you did.”

In four years with Houston, Baker reached the ALCS four times, won three consecutive AL West division titles (2021-23), two AL pennants ('21-22) and one World Series, beating the Phillies in six games in '22. He is the oldest manager to win a World Series.

“As a child, I watched him play on TV and just an honor to be around such a good baseball man with over 50 years of experience,” Astros general manager Dana Brown said. “He’s a winner, most of all.”

Following a 19-year playing career with the Braves (where he was teammates with Hank Aaron), the Dodgers (whom he helped win a World Series in 1981), the Giants and the A's, Baker went into coaching. He also managed the Giants (1993-2002), the Cubs (2003-06), the Reds (2008-13) and the Nationals (2016-17). He was all but retired at his home in Sacramento when the Houston job opened up.

Baker won 320 games in four seasons with the Astros, which included the pandemic-shortened 60-game season in 2020. The Astros averaged 97 wins from 2021-23. This year’s team went 90-72 and won the AL West on the final day of the regular season before losing in seven games to the Rangers in the ALCS. Baker’s 57 playoff wins are the fourth-most in history.

By hanging up his uniform for good, Baker can focus on his family -- his son, Darren, is a Minor League player in the Nationals' system – and his winery in Northern California, along with other business interests. He’s earned the right to do whatever he wants.

“First, I’m going to go home and talk to my daughter that thinks she’s my mother and spend some time with my grandkids and let the Lord tell me where to go and what to do with my life,” he said. “I still feel like I haven’t done what I’m supposed to do in life. I feel there are great things ahead for me.”