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Former Major League Baseball Player, Manager Dusty Baker To be Enshrined in Little League Museum Hall of Excellence

Dusty Baker

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 not.”

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 Series.

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 anniversary.

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 countries.

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.