Former Major League Baseball Player, Manager Dusty Baker To be Enshrined in Little League Museum Hall of Excellence
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (Aug. 7, 2007) – As a child, Little League filled
Dusty Baker’s summer days, and his positive experience growing up
playing for his father in Riverside (Calif.) Lions Little League (RLLL)
made playing baseball a life-long dream that guided him into a
career in Major League Baseball.
At the 61st Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport,
Pa., Mr. Baker’s storied baseball life will be recognized when he is
enshrined in the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum’s Hall of
Excellence. The enshrinement ceremony will take place before the
3:30 p.m. World Championship game, scheduled on Aug. 26.
“My dad was involved in Little League for 40 years,” Mr. Baker, who
has two brothers who played Little League, said. “I was a Little
Leaguer and now my eight-year-old son, Darren, is a Little Leaguer.
It was tough playing for my Dad (John) because he cut me three times
for a bad attitude. I had to play Minors for three years, and
finally made the Majors at age 11, but I learned about
sportsmanship, teamwork and having fun playing the game.
“The hours you put into Little League help to develop a sense of
commitment and dedication for whatever you do,” Mr. Baker said. “Dad
realized he did the right thing by cutting me. He said, ‘It’s like
when you invest, you don’t know until later if it was a good deal or
not.’ For me, the lessons I learned in Little League were a good
investment and set the foundation for the rest of my life.”
A native of Riverside, Calif., Johnnie B. “Dusty” Baker, Jr., was
drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 1967 amateur draft. One year
later, the 19-year-old made his Major League debut with the Braves.
After eight seasons in Atlanta, Mr. Baker was traded to the Los
Angeles Dodgers following the 1975 season. He spent eight seasons
with the Dodgers, highlighted by four trips to the playoffs, three
World Series appearances and one world title in 1981. In that
championship season, culminating with a win over the New York
Yankees in the World Series, Mr. Baker made the first of two
all-star game appearances, won a Gold Glove Award, and hit for a
.320 batting average.
In 1984, Mr. Baker joined the San Francisco Giants as a free agent.
Prior to the 1985 season, he was traded to the Oakland Athletics,
where he spent two years before retiring as a player after 19
seasons. For his career, Mr. Baker posted a .278 batting average in
2,039 games, with 242 home runs and 1,014 runs batted in.
“We all need an education on how to make children interested in
playing baseball,” Mr. Baker, a second baseman and outfielder for
the RLLL Dodgers during his Little League years, said, “I run into
young people all the time that make me feel good about the impact
I’ve had on their athletic and personal lives. Whenever kids are
involved I try to help out.
“It’s great that the kids can travel to the World Series, and get to
meet other kids from different parts of the country and the world,”
Mr. Baker said. “They’re getting an education that will carry with
them throughout their lives whether the make the big leagues, or
Mr. Baker began his coaching career in 1988 with San Francisco, and
was on the staff until 1992 when he hired as the team’s manager
prior to the 1993 season. In nine years with the Giants, Mr. Baker
was named manager of the year three times. In his first season, the
team won 103 games, a National League record for first-year
managers. Over six seasons, Mr. Baker’s Giants posted a 547-425
record, and won the National League pennant in 2002.
In 2003, Mr. Baker left the Giants for the Chicago Cubs, where he
was the manager for four seasons. From 2003 through 2006, Mr.
Baker’s team amassed a record of 322-326. The Cubs’ 2003 season
ended with a loss to the Florida Marlins in the National League
Championship Series. In 16 seasons as a manager, Mr. Baker compiled
a record of 1,162-1,041.
Currently, Mr. Baker is working as an analyst for ESPN’s coverage of
Major League Baseball and this year’s Little League Baseball World
Established in 1988, enshrinement in the Little League Museum’s Hall
of Excellence is conducted annually for a Little League graduate (or
graduates) who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence in their
chosen profession and exemplify the values learned as children in
Little League Baseball or Softball. Enshrinees are selected through
a defined voting system by the Peter J. McGovern Little League
Museum Advisory Board.
Mr. McGovern saw the need for a physical structure to tell the story
of Little League. To that end, he spearheaded the development of the
Little League Museum. Opened during the 1982 Little League World
Series, the museum is located on the Little League International
complex. It was renamed in Mr. McGovern’s honor upon his retirement
in 1983. This year, Little League is celebrating the Museum’s 25th
Little League Baseball and Softball is the world’s largest organized
youth sports program, with nearly 2.7 million players and one
million adult volunteers in every U.S. state and scores of other
Dusty Baker, second player from the right
in the middle row, played Little League in the Riverside
(Calif.) Lions Little League. Mr. Baker played Major League
Baseball for 19 years and enjoyed a successful managerial
career with the San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs. He,
and National Hockey League player Pierre Turgeon, will be
enshrined into the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum
Hall of Excellence during the 61st Little League Baseball
World Series in Williamsport.