June 14, 2024

‘This is home’: Baker embracing new role with Giants

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — When Dusty Baker led the Astros to victory in the 2022 World Series, finally going all the way in his 25th season as a manager, he handily put an end to the narrative that he wasn’t capable of guiding a team to baseball’s promised land.

But he hasn’t completely satisfied his desire to win. Now, Baker has a new goal: hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy once more. This time, as an executive.

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While there’s something poetic about collecting a personal trifecta of championships, it’s not something Baker has dreamt of throughout his career. This latest ambition was realized more recently.

“When we lost Game 7 last year,” Baker told MLB.com, pausing before letting loose a chuckle. “Losing can give you new goals. And winning gives you other goals, but sometimes, losing gives you goals.”

Baker, 74, made his first public appearance since rejoining the Giants’ organization as a special advisor to baseball operations at the first stop of the FanFest tour at Sutter Health Park, home of the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats, on Saturday.

A fan favorite who figures to one day be enshrined in Cooperstown, Baker had a 19-year playing career that began with the Atlanta Braves — where the legendary Henry Aaron took Baker under his wing — and included a 1981 World Series title with the Dodgers.

Baker’s first managerial opportunity came with the Giants from 1993-2002, and he led the Cubs (2003-06), Reds (2008-13), Nationals (2016-17) and Astros (2020-23) before retiring following last year’s American League Championship Series loss in seven games to Bruce Bochy’s Rangers.

Baker became the seventh person to win the World Series as a player and as a manager in the divisional era (since 1969) when Houston won it all in 2022.

As a special advisor, Baker will work on both the baseball and business sides under team CEO Larry Baer, similar to the role he served with the Giants from 2018-19. Baker anticipates spending a fair amount of time around the team during the season, though he wasn’t entirely sure how much just yet.

What he does know is this new role will allow him more freedom from the restrictions of an MLB schedule.

Baker will have plenty of opportunity to get his baseball fix, but he’ll also have more time for his son, Darren, who’s a prospect in the Nationals’ farm system. There’s fish to catch, wine to make and scotch to drink, and much more flexibility to do it all on Baker’s terms.

“This allows me to do some of the things that I couldn’t do for 50 years,” Baker said. “Go fishing, see my son play, live kind of a spontaneous life vs. a planned life.”

While the Giants have made some big moves this offseason — signing Jung Hoo Lee and Jordan Hicks, as well as trading for Robbie Ray — bringing Baker back to the Bay may be one of the most popular decisions the team has made this winter.

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