He's back! 7 incredible facts on Dusty in WS

October 26th, 2021

He’s back, at long last. Nineteen years after Dusty Baker guided the Giants to a World Series berth in 2002, the storied manager is finally back in the Fall Classic, this time with the Astros.

There are so many extraordinary facets to the baseball life of Baker, who was the youngest manager in the sport when he was hired in December 1992 to helm the Giants in ‘93. He was 43, and his only managerial experience was in the inaugural year of the Arizona Fall League in 1992. He’d been a Giants coach for five years prior to ‘93, following a stint as an investment broker in 1987, which came after he retired from playing following the ‘86 season.

"I didn't think it would happen this soon, although I had a plan that I would be a manager somewhere in five years," Baker said when introduced at a news conference in ‘92. "I'm excited. I'm psyched."

Even then, Baker was uniquely himself -- the same individual who said, on set with FS1 after the Astros’ 5-0 win in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night at Minute Maid Park, that he’s “a cool 72 [years old].”

Here are seven incredible facts about Baker’s return to the World Series:

1. As mentioned above, this has been a long time coming for Baker, who last managed in the World Series in 2002 with San Francisco, which lost in seven games to the Angels. It has been 19 seasons since then. His son, Darren -- who was notably saved from a collision at home plate by J.T. Snow in that ‘02 Series as a youngster -- is now a 22-year-old Minor Leaguer for the Nationals after playing college ball at the University of California, Berkeley. The only manager with a longer stretch between World Series appearances was Bucky Harris, who managed the 1925 Senators in the World Series, then did not return to the Fall Classic until 1947 with the Yankees, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

2. Another facet of that time passing? The fact that Baker has, of course, aged in that span. He’ll be 72 years and 133 days old on Tuesday, for World Series Game 1. That will make him the second-oldest manager to reach the Fall Classic, younger than only Jack McKeon -- who was 72 years and 329 days old for Game 1 with the 2003 Marlins. McKeon’s Marlins won that World Series, which means Baker would be the second oldest to win a title, should the Astros win four more games this fall.

3. When the Astros clinched the AL West, Baker became the first manager to guide five franchises to a division title -- having done so with the Giants, Cubs, Reds and Nationals, as well. With this AL pennant, he becomes just the ninth manager to win a pennant in both leagues, joining Sparky Anderson, Yogi Berra, Al Dark, Tony La Russa, Jim Leyland, Joe Maddon, Joe McCarthy and Dick Williams.

4. Now that Baker is back in the World Series, the question becomes whether he can finally win his first title. He has managed 78 postseason games, the most by any manager yet to win a World Series, and the fifth-most playoff games managed overall. In the regular season, he’s been at the helm for 1,987 wins, also the most among those yet to win a title, and the 12th-most overall.

5. Between World Series appearances, Baker managed 54 postseason games -- from the 2003 Cubs through Game 6 of this year’s ALCS. That’s the most postseason games managed between World Series games, surpassing a 48-game stretch by La Russa between a 1990 AL pennant with the A’s and a 2004 NL pennant with the Cardinals, according to Elias.

6. Dave Roberts, who won the World Series with the Dodgers last year in his 65th postseason game managed, holds the record for most career playoff games managed at the time of his first World Series-clinching victory, according to Elias. That means Baker would set a record if the Astros win it all, given that he will have managed at least 82 games (four more than his current total) if that were to happen. As mentioned above, this has been a long time coming.

7. And what about regular-season games? Baker has managed 3,722 games in the regular season, 12th most in history. Only one manager has been at the helm for more games without winning a title: Gene Mauch, who managed 3,942 games. So where would Baker’s 3,722 rank for a manager before a first title? Also first, of course. The current record holder is Bruce Bochy, who managed 2,574 regular-season games before the Giants won the 2010 World Series, his first at the helm.