Is Dusty done managing for good this time? 'Never say never' (2024)

March 8th, 2024

Is Dusty done managing for good this time? 'Never say never' (1)

Mike Lupica


The first baseball spring in the big leagues for Dusty Baker was at the end of the '60s with the Braves, which means nearly 60 years ago. All this time later, he is still in baseball, as a special advisor with the Giants. But he is not in a dugout this spring, having retired from managing the Astros after they were once again a win away from the World Series.

On this morning, he was on the east coast of Florida, preparing to make the drive up to Port St. Lucie later in the day to watch his son, Darren, play second base for the Nationals against the Mets. Dusty did have a game then, just not one with him in it.

I asked him how it is for him, after his long and honorable baseball life, watching games from the stands now, or from a box sometimes, just because when he’s up in the stands, he spends so much time signing autographs that he feels like he’s missing a good game.

“I’ve been weaning myself off being down there,” he said. “I was in the dugout when I went to my first games in Arizona, but I was in street clothes.”

I asked how much he misses Spring Training mornings now that he is out of uniform. He laughed and said he doesn’t miss the early wakeup calls -- not even a little bit.

“When Opening Day comes around,” he said, “I’m going to miss the competition. I’m going to miss the games.”

He first managed at the big league level for the Giants back in 1993. Now, he has managed 26 seasons overall, spending time at the helm of the Cubs, Reds, Nationals and finally, the Astros. He was out of a dugout for a season between the Cubs and Reds, two between the Reds and the Nationals, two between the Nationals and the Astros.

“I know how to be away,” he said. “I’ve done it before.”

The best of it for this great baseball man, at least as a manager, came with the Astros. He was with them for four seasons. Twice they went to the World Series. The other two times, they were a win away.

Dusty took over after the sign-stealing scandal, and his first year in Houston was the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign. The Astros were only 29-31 in the regular season, but they came from 0-3 down in the American League Championship Series to force a Game 7. They tried to do what only the ’04 Red Sox had done against the Yankees, but came up short.

The next year, they went to the Series and lost to the Braves. The year after that, Dusty Baker finally was a manager who won it all when the Astros beat the Phillies in six games.

Last year, they lost another Game 7, this one to the Rangers, or Dusty would have gone out on top, at least for now. Because the one thing you don’t hear from him when he talks about his future, even though he will turn 75 in June, is Dusty ruling out coming back one more time.

“Never say never,” he said.

We got to talking about last year’s ALCS, and how close the Astros were, a Game 7 at home at Minute Maid Park, that kind of chance to go back to the Series and play the Diamondbacks, that kind of chance for Dusty to go out having won two in a row.

“Some of our guys went cold,” he said. “Some of their guys got hot. That’s baseball.”

He has done it all and seen it all, as a player and as a manager. His first three full seasons in the Major Leagues were with the Braves. They turned out to be Hank Aaron’s last in Atlanta before he went back to Milwaukee and finished out his career with the Brewers. So Dusty was young with the Braves when Aaron was old. And he was there in 1974 when Aaron finally broke Babe Ruth’s home run record.

He is immensely proud of his work as a manager, at all of his stops along the way. He was the right man for the Astros as they played themselves out of the shadow of scandal and back into the bright lights of October.

No. Check that. Dusty Baker was the perfect man, because there was no one in the game respected more than he was. He helped keep the team together through a short, difficult regular season until the Astros once again remembered how to do it in October.

He got one more with the Astros and then walked away, just not from baseball. It’s a different kind of Spring Training for Dusty, in the stands instead of in the dugout. He says he’s fine with it, really. It’s still a different kind of baseball spring for him. And he knows it’s going to be even more different once he gets to Opening Day.

More than 2,000 games as a player. More than twice that many as a manager.

“Yeah,” Dusty Baker said. “I’m gonna miss those games.”

Not as much as they’re going to miss him.

Is Dusty done managing for good this time? 'Never say never' (2024)


Who does Dusty Baker currently manage? ›

Former Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker has returned to the San Francisco Giants in a new role. After spending three of his last 26 years as manager with the Astros, Baker will move into a front office position as the special assistant to president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and CEO Larry Baer.

Who is the Astros' new manager? ›

New Houston Astros manager Joe Espada wants his team to have a different mindset on offense.

Is Dusty Baker still a coach of the Houston Astros? ›

After retiring as a player, Baker served as the manager of the Giants from 1993 to 2002, the Chicago Cubs from 2003 to 2006, the Cincinnati Reds from 2008 to 2013, the Washington Nationals from 2016 to 2017, and the Houston Astros from 2020 to 2023.

What team does Dusty Baker play for? ›

Dusty was drafted by the Atlanta Braves and made his debut on September 7, 1968 as a 19-year-old player. He would go on to have a stellar career with the Atlanta Braves (1968-75), Los Angeles Dodgers (1976-83), San Francisco Giants (1984) and Oakland Athletics (1985-86), appearing in 2,039 games, with a .

Is Dusty Baker managing a team in 2024? ›

Dusty Baker won't be managing in 2024, but he will be involved in baseball. On Monday night USA Today reported that Baker, the former Houston Astros manager, agreed to become a special assistant with the San Francisco Giants, the player where he started his managerial career.

Who is the Astros manager for 2024? ›

The Astros' new manager, Joe Espada, was introduced on Monday and spoke on how he has accomplished his dream job with his family by his side.

Did Dusty Baker retire as a manager? ›

Baker, 74, retired from managing after the Houston Astros were eliminated from the postseason last October in the ALCS.

Does Dusty Baker have a wife? ›

Is Dusty Baker coming back to the Astros next year? ›

Dusty Baker tells multiple people that 2023 is his final season as Astros manager: Sources. HOUSTON – Dusty Baker has expressed to multiple people inside and outside of the Houston Astros organization that 2023 will be his final season as manager, sources briefed on the matter told The Athletic over the past week.

Did Dusty Baker invent the High Five? ›

Magic Johnson says he invented high five with Michigan State teammate Greg Kelser. Former Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker is credited by many as the inventor of the high five, after he shared the gesture with teammate Glenn Burke while playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1977.

Did Dusty Baker go to college? ›

attended American River College in Sacramento, CA.... spent the 2007 season working for ESPN as a broadcaster and as a co-host of Baseball Tonight... wife's name is Melissa...they have a 10-year old son, Darren...

What is Dusty Baker famous for? ›

A legend in baseball, Dusty Baker is the only a 3-time Major League Baseball Manager of the year in Major League history, a former All-Star as a player, and a former Marine.

Is Dusty Baker back with the Giants? ›

Baker's MLB managing career began with the Giants in 1993

Dusty Baker is returning to the San Francisco Giants as a special adviser to baseball operations, the team announced Thursday. “I've enjoyed my stops at various places, but I'm happy to be back home,” Baker said in a team release.

Who is the manager of the San Francisco Giants? ›

The San Francisco Giants have hired manager Bob Melvin away from the division rival San Diego Padres. Melvin occasionally cracked down if he noticed a lack of participation during the national anthem. He says the team is embracing the policy change.

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