Sometimes, absence makes you realize how much you loved something. In this case, watching MLB Network’s profile/documentary on Dusty Baker the other night made me realize how much I miss the guy. He’s a damn baseball artifact, and compared to the incumbent Bryan Price he’s just so much cooler all around.
The show opened up with this song – and what would be better for a Dusty Baker tribute:
I didn’t realize Baker spent several years hitting behind Hank Aaron in Atlanta. I knew he was part of the first official high-five in sports with Glenn Burke.
But this feature did a good job of reminding you how many close calls this guy has had with reaching the mountain’s zenith. He’s baseball’s black Marv Levy. And I enter the 2016 season rooting for the guy. Not just because he’s with an organization that I like and respect in Washington, but because I think it will be a great baseball story if he gets back to the World Series with one more shot at the title before his final chapter is written. I believe he’s a good man, and overall a good; but flawed manager.
He was always friendly to me and my family when we went down to the park in Cincinnati. You could chat him up simply by yelling “Hey Dusty”. He smiled always, said hello and was generally inviting. And you knew with Baker you were at least going to be respectable. He found his unique way to fuck shit up on occasion as all managers do, and he was stubborn in his old school ways (he talks about his disdain for new age metrics a little bit on the special). But you can’t argue that the guy is a winner.
I realized I not only miss Dusty Baker, but it’s probable that his era with the Cincinnati Reds will go down as my most enjoyable seasons of my adult life. They were fun summers, and even if they never reached the ultimate goal; I will always have fond memories of ‘Dusty Pegleg’ as me and my buddies called him.