Just call him Mr. 2,000.
Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker won his 2,000th game Tuesday night, becoming the 12th captain in major league history to reach the milestone and the first black man to do so.
The landmark victory came in Houston’s 4-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners and comes more than 29 years after he earned his first victory on April 6, 1993, in a 2-1 victory over San Francisco. over St.Louis.
“I’m probably one of the luckiest men to ever walk this earth,” a smiling Baker said minutes after the final out.
Baker, 72, said being the first black coach to reach 2,000 wins makes the achievement even more significant.
“It means extra,” he said. “It means extra for the culture. It means extra for society. It means extra for my race, and it means extra for others to have a chance (so that) I’m not the last one.”
It is the latest milestone in a storied career as a player and manager that has spanned more than 50 years. Baker has reached the World Series twice as a manager, last season with the Astros and in 2002 with the Giants. As a player, he played three times for the Dodgers and won it all as a hard-hitting left fielder in 1981.
So where does this moment rank?
“Right now it’s at the top,” he said. “But I’m not going to stop now.”
Ten of the other 11 managers who have amassed at least 2,000 wins are in the Hall of Fame. Bruce Bochy (2003), who is not yet eligible, is the only exception.
“This should go straight to the Hall of Fame,” Astros catcher Martin Maldonado said.
Baker’s players presented him with a bottle of vintage Dom Pérignon champagne which they signed with a gold marker to commemorate the achievement. The team toasted Baker with much more reasonably priced champagne in the clubhouse after the game.
His wife, Melissa, and a group of about 10 friends were at the ballpark. Melissa Baker smiled as she filmed her husband after the game from the stands as the giant screen flashed an image of him with the words “2K Wins” in huge white letters.
Baker’s career record is 2000-1745 and he is the only manager in Major League history to have led five different teams to the postseason.
He accumulated 840 wins in 10 years with the Giants, 322 in four seasons with the Cubs, 509 in six years with the Reds, 192 in two seasons with the Nationals and has 137 in his time with the Astros.
“I’m just doing my job,” Baker said. “I’m still not that proud of myself.”
There was a time when Baker wondered if he would have a chance to chase this milestone. After being fired by the Nationals following a 97-win season in 2017, Baker didn’t get another job until 2020 after Houston’s sign-stealing scandal cost manager AJ Hinch his job.
“If there wasn’t a scandal, I wouldn’t be in this position,” Baker said. “My phone wasn’t ringing off the hook. Three different times I lost jobs and twice I was winning, and I didn’t get a call for two years…so, yeah, it’s just a matter of perseverance. And I’m here and I’m… .where I’m supposed to be.”
Baker, who needs 41 wins to climb to No. 9 on the racing list, was asked about how to break into the top 10.
“I will get there as long as I live,” he said. “That’s my thing. As long as I live and as long as you do your job, and my job is to win, I’ll get there.”
Baker said his first thought after the final out was to be there when Bochy, a good friend, reached 2,000 wins. And then a second thought immediately popped into his head.
“That’s the first thing I thought of,” he said. “And the next thing I thought, I needed three more to (catch) Bruce.”
Associated Press report.
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