Dusty Baker retires after 26 seasons as MLB manager

Dusty Baker, an iconic figure in baseball history, surprised Houston Astros owner Jim Crane by announcing his retirement as manager in a private meeting on Tuesday.

A press conference has been scheduled for Thursday at noon ET at Minute Maid Park, where Baker will publicly confirm his decision.

“I’m incredibly thankful to Jim Crane and the Houston Astros for giving me this opportunity and for our championship win,” Baker shared with USA TODAY Sports. “I believe that our partnership has been mutually beneficial, and I appreciate Jim’s honesty and transparency throughout.”

Although Baker expressed his desire to continue his involvement in baseball as an advisor for either the Astros or a team closer to his home in Sacramento, California, he has officially decided to retire after 26 seasons of managing.

“Baseball has been my life, and I still have so much to offer,” said Baker, a former All-Star outfielder with 19 years of playing experience. “My knowledge of the game surpasses those who have never played.”

Dusty Baker led the Astros to a World Series championship in 2022.

Dusty Baker led the Astros to a World Series championship in 2022.

Even if the Astros had secured another World Series title, Baker had always planned to retire after this season due to the stress and various other factors that reinforced his decision.

Baker purposely refrained from announcing his retirement during spring training so as to not distract his team, drawing from the experience of Texas Rangers manager Bruce Bochy, who regretted publicizing his departure from the San Francisco Giants in 2019 only to return this year with the Rangers.

“I considered it before the year started, but after talking to Bruce Bochy, who mentioned how distracting it was for his team in San Francisco, I decided not to do it,” Baker explained. “It wouldn’t have been fair to my players.”

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Following their Game 7 loss to the Rangers in the ALCS, Baker spent Monday night in relaxed company at the downtown Westin Hotel with seven friends. He made a late-night stop for tacos at La Calle and then returned home. On Tuesday, he met with Crane at Minute Maid Park, followed by a meeting with GM Dana Brown to communicate his plans.

Baker expressed complete contentment with his decision. Now, he exits the baseball world on his own terms, leaving behind a remarkable legacy.

Baker, who will be eligible for the Hall of Fame ballot in three years, is highly expected to be a unanimous selection on the Contemporary Era ballot. This recognition would make him the first African American manager to be inducted into Cooperstown.

Known for his achievements, Baker ranks seventh all-time with 2,183 career victories and holds the fourth-most postseason victories in baseball history with 57. He is the only manager to lead five different teams to postseason berths. The only other manager with over 2,000 wins yet to reach the Hall of Fame is Bochy, who is not yet eligible.

Right man at the right time for Astros

Baker’s appointment as manager of the Astros in January 2020 came as a blessing to the team. Previous manager A.J. Hinch had been fired due to the Astros’ involvement in the 2017 cheating scandal. Despite facing continuous taunting and fan abuse on the road, Baker led the Astros to four consecutive ALCS berths, two pennants, and their first-ever World Series championship.

“Jim told me that I was the only person capable of achieving what we did,” Baker disclosed. “I believe that I arrived at the perfect moment. The team needed someone to calm the storm, and we succeeded in doing just that.”

And so much more.

“Dusty Baker is an absolute legend in the sport,” praised Astros shortstop Jeremy Pena. “I’ve cherished every day I’ve spent with him on this team. He has been an exceptional manager who has instilled immense confidence in me.”

“People adore him,” added Astros veteran catcher Martin Maldonado. “He has given everything for the city and the players and deserves his place in the Hall of Fame.”

Baker intends to spend the next week in Houston packing before returning home to his winery, a place he hasn’t seen since February 10. He plans to indulge in fishing, hunting, and relaxation.

Yet, he remains available to join a team that values his experience, expertise, and respects his input into the game.

“I may be leaving, but I won’t be gone,” Baker stated.

Follow Nightengale on X: @Bnightengale

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Dusty Baker retires after 26 seasons as MLB manager: ‘I’m gone’


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