Baker to 'evaluate my situation' amid rumors of retirement

October 24th, 2023

HOUSTON -- When he finally won his elusive World Series title as a manager a year ago, Dusty Baker emphatically talked about returning this year and making a run at title No. 2. His mantra became, “If I win one, I want to win two.”

At no point during the 2023 season did Baker speak beyond this season, though, leaving some in the organization to speculate about whether this would be his final season in Houston. After the Astros were eliminated in an 11-4 drubbing at the hands of the Rangers in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Monday at Minute Maid Park, the 74-year-old Baker spoke like a man who is headed for retirement.

“I haven't had time to evaluate or think about my future because … I'm not that kind of dude,” he said. “I don't want to steal the spotlight or anything from these guys. You've got to savor what we did. You've got to think about how we can get better. And then I'll evaluate my situation and my life.”

Baker said he’ll talk to his family before making any kind of decision about his future. The Athletic reported late Monday, citing sources, that Baker has told some in the organization he won’t be returning. Baker’s one-year contract expired at the end of this season.

“I've got two grandsons…” he said. “I've really sort of cheated them in my quest for another ring. I've got two dogs, hunting dogs, a year old. They wouldn't even know me when I walk in the house because I haven't been home since February the 10th.”

Baker’s managerial résumé should earn him a spot in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in the coming years. Last year, he won his first World Series championship as a manager -- becoming the oldest manager to win a World Series -- and he surpassed 2,000 career wins. He ranks seventh all time with 2,183 career wins, and his 57 playoff wins are fourth all time.

The only member of the 2,000-win managerial club who isn’t in the Hall of Fame is Rangers manager Bruce Bochy, who’s not yet eligible for induction.

“Dusty Baker’s a legend in the sport,” Astros shortstop Jeremy Peña said. “I’ve loved every single day that I’ve gotten to share with him on this ballclub. He’s been great for me. He’s shown so much confidence in me. He’s been a great manager.”

The Astros lured Baker out of retirement in January 2020 to guide the embattled club in the wake of the sign-stealing scandal. Astros owner Jim Crane deemed Baker, one of the most well-respected men in the game, as the perfect choice to carry his team through a troublesome time.

Baker did just that, leading the Astros to Game 7 of the ALCS during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. In 2021, the Astros lost to the Braves in the World Series, but they rebounded to win 106 games in 2022 and romp through October, beating the Phillies in six games in the World Series.

“Great man,” pitcher Justin Verlander said. “He cares a lot about the guys. I really appreciate getting to know him as a person -- not just on the field, but off the field. We had some great conversations in the last few years, and it’s been a real pleasure to be able to play for him.”

Baker undoubtedly has a place in the game, even if he decides not to manage next year. The Astros, who last year replaced James Click with Dana Brown as general manager, will look for a younger manager going forward. The Astros will return most of their players from 2024 and should be one of the favorites in the AL once again.

“What a great run we had,” said outfielder Michael Brantley, who likely played his final game in an Astros uniform. “If this is it for [Baker], what a phenomenal career he’s had. It’s been an honor to play under him.”