CHICAGO – Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker thought his team might have a chance to clinch the National League Central at Wrigley Field this week, but in case they don’t, he will take a managerial milestone instead.
Baker managed his 3,000th career game Tuesday night in a contest that matched his current team against one of his former clubs.
His managerial career includes 1,556 games as manager of the San Francisco Giants, 648 games with the Cubs and 796 games with the Reds. He entered Tuesday’s game with a 1,572-1,426 record with one game in 2002 between the Giants and Braves finishing in a 3-3 tie.
“I don’t think about it really,” Baker said. “You just go out there and do your job every day. I wouldn’t have even known it was my 3,000th game if (the media relations staff) hadn’t told me. I’m a daily person. Everybody wants to achieve things but I’m just glad out of the 3,000 games I’ve won more than lost. That’s a lot of games. It’s not as many as some but I still have a few games left in me, I think.”
A three-sport athlete in his youth, Baker has shown that his decision to follow a path in baseball was the correct one. In addition to his 3,000 games as a manager, he played in 2,039 game over 19 seasons.
“I take a lot of pride in it because I remember the day I signed,” Baker said. “Being a 25th round draft choice I wasn’t given much of a chance by a lot of people because they thought I chose the wrong sport at the time instead of football or basketball. I left home without my dad’s permission, kind of. That was a big topic of discussion in our family, naturally. Things have gone fairly well.”
Baker had a 322-326 record in his four years as the Cubs manager, winning the division in his first season in 2003. That season, of course, was widely known for the collapse in the National League Championship Series.
Yet, Baker still looks fondly over his Chicago years, even though his Cubs teams never finished higher than third place after that first season.
With the Reds entering the series with a magic number of five to clinch the NL Central title, Baker was asked if it would have been sweet to finish things off at Wrigley Field.
“I thought of it a few days ago but (the Cardinals) would have to lose every game while we’re here and we’d have to win every game,” Baker said. “Our goal is to just win. I don’t care where we clinch, we just want to clinch it. Then we can go to Step 2 and hopefully Step 3 then Step 4 and then go home.”