Old School Rules | Houston Astros’ 72-Year-Old Dusty Baker Is On His Way To AL Manager of the Year

Dusty Baker is one of the greatest managers in MLB history and only one of three Black managers currently. Under his leadership, the Houston Astros have survived the previous cheating scandal and are in position to challenge for a World Series

Dusty Baker continues to bring good mojo to H-Town. The winningest Black manager in MLB history has the Houston Astros sporting the best offense in baseball and leading the Majors in almost every hitting category.

Back in June when Dusty’s ’Stros were really rolling — winners of 11 straight and flexing the best record in the American League despite injuries to All-Stars Alex Bregman and Justin Verlander — Dusty was on a high that he’s been on just a few times in his illustrious career.

There’s something about being in the twilight of a career that makes people savor every last step of the journey. Dusty has been a baseball lifer with a résumé that is unmatched by 99 percent of people to ever make their career on the diamond.

 

A Short List Of Dusty Baker’s Accomplishments

  • 22 years as an MLB Manager with the San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals.
  • 16 years as high-caliber player for the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers.
  • Went to three World Series with the Dodgers and won the 1981 World series. On two NL All-Star teams, won two Silver Slugger Awards and one Gold Glove Award.
  • First manager to take four different teams to the NL Playoffs.

If those accolades aren’t satisfactory to cement Baker as a Hall of Famer, then the fact that he was also an instrumental figure in inventing the High Five just adds some cultural luster to his legendary baseball resume.

Dusty is 12th all-time for most wins by an MLB manager with 1,976, but he’s never won a championship in that capacity. He’s come close, but the baseball gods weren’t ready to grant him that accolade.

He won’t admit it, but that ring chase is probably the reason why he’s still managing. Dusty’s also an old-school dude who doesn’t run from a challenge.

Open Season On Astros

With fans being allowed back in ballparks for the first time since 2019, people finally got their chance at vengeance against the Astros for the sign-stealing scandal during their 2017 World Series run.

From Los Angeles to New York, entire stadiums were waging war against Dusty’s 26-man crew, and he’s proved to be the perfect skipper to pilot the ship. Protecting his players like a bulletproof vest and keeping the conversation on baseball, because that’s what he does best.

After taking over a franchise in the midst of chaos and scandal, Baker probably should have been the Manager of the Year in 2020 considering what he had to deal with and the negative microscope that his team was under.

Baker shook off the haters, maintained the fort, and shocked MLB by leading the Astros to Game 7 of last year’s American League Championship Series. He could have ridden off into the sunset. Baker’s said plenty of times that he has nothing to prove.

Nine months ago he was asked if this was his last hurrah. At 72 years old, most assumed that he would manage another year or two and then hang it up. Baker, who didn’t even know if he wanted to return to managing with the ’Stros, says he’s enjoying his life in Houston.

 

He’s in manager mode with the same enthusiasm as when he was 52. The bug is back, and who knows how long Baker will remain in the dugout, but why change anything now?

Asked this summer how he felt about a contract extension in Houston, Baker told the San Antonio Express-News he’s just enjoying the moment:

“My mind wasn’t changed or made up in the first place,” said Baker, a three-time National League Manager of the Year. “I like this team a lot. I like the city. I like where the organization is going…”

“I’m just living my life and letting things happen. They’ll work out if they’re supposed to. I haven’t been approached (by the Astros) yet and I haven’t approached them. But right now, man, we’ve got plenty of things on our mind and plenty of work to do.”

One More World Series Run

Baker has the ‘Stros back in contention this season. Right now, the Astros currently lead all of MLB in a number of statistical categories. They’re first in batting average (.270), RBI (752), hits (1,359), second in OPS (.785) and third in slugging (.444)

The entire lineup puts the strikeout-or-homer mindset to death. Check this, 11 batters on the roster have batting averages above .250, and eight have an OPS above .800.

Michael Brantley is one of the leaders of the pack, and he doesn’t have the stain of participating in a cheating scandal. His .315 batting average is good for fourth in all of baseball.

The Astros staff is also top five in ERA, which means Dusty’s club is loaded and equipped for a playoff run. Fans and media are finally talking about the team’s performance on the field and not its method of banging on garbage cans to gain an advantage.

After all of these years, a World Series ring as a manager would be the final chapter in Baker’s incomparable baseball journey. He’ll probably get that fourth Manager of the Year award at the end of this season, regardless of what happens in the playoffs.

The Astros have the second-best record in the American League, have overcome injuries to some key players and are still running away with the division.

Dusty does it again.

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.