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November 5, 2022

Dusty Baker

Houston, Texas, USA

Minute Maid Park

Houston Astros

Postgame 6 Press Conference

Houston Astros - 4, Philadelphia Phillies - 1

THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with questions for Dusty.

DUSTY BAKER: I'm just glad I don't have to come in here first. I didn't like that too much.

Q. It's been 10,806 days since you managed your first game.


Q. Yeah. Nearly 30 years ago. From that point to now, how much have you thought about this moment, to manage a team that won the World Series?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I thought about it a lot. I tried not to dwell on it, but tried to have faith and perseverance and knowing that with the right team and the right personnel and right everything that this is going to happen.

Had this happened years ago, I might not even be here. So maybe it wasn't supposed to happen so that I could hopefully influence a few young men's lives and their families and a number of people in the country through showing what perseverance and character can do for you in the long run.

I'm hoping that I gave some people the same hope that my mom and dad gave me, that, you know, sometimes it's not in your control sometimes because there were circumstances that happened in other postseasons or World Series or calls or balls that, you know, or guys that didn't do this or did do that for and against us.

So I'm just extremely happy. It hasn't really sunk in yet until, probably until I get back to Cali.

Q. Is it relief? Is it joy? What's the feeling right now?

DUSTY BAKER: No, it's not relief. It's just shear joy and thankfulness. It's not relief at all. I mean, because everybody was talking about it more than I was even thinking about it. So I always said before that if I win one, you know, I'll win two, but you got to win one first. I mean, the one was hell to get to this point. But it was well worth it. I'm in a great city, with great people, great fans, and I got a great ball club.

I mean, these guys, they know how to win. They come to play. No alibis, no excuses. You can come in our clubhouse, you can't tell the next day if we lost or if we won. So these guys are very consistent in their personality and the confidence that they have in themselves.

Q. Last year before the World Series we talked about the conversation you had with your dad after the 2002, how he said after what happened, you didn't know if you would ever win another one and that drove you. Are you thinking about him tonight?

DUSTY BAKER: I was thinking about him this morning when I woke up. And Game 6 has been my nemesis throughout my career, and this is Game 6. And I was, like, I didn't really want to get to Game 6 again, but I was like, well, maybe this is how it's supposed to be.

But, you know, my dad didn't mean anything negative when he said -- my dad, you know, back in the old school, there was such thing as negative motivation. In the new school, negative motivation doesn't work. But like my dad was the kind of dude that I'd score four or five touchdowns, score 30 points, and I would ask my dad, How did I do tonight in basketball? And my dad would tell me, Pretty good. And I would be like, Damn, Dad, I think I did great, you know?

But pretty good was his way of keeping me motivated that next time I score five or six touchdowns.

Q. You succeeded as a manager right from the start. I mean, the '93 Giants, manager of the year, I'm pretty sure. But how has that perseverance changed you or improved you or made you different over these last 30 years?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I mean, it's made me calmer. It's made me -- you know, my '93 team won 103 games. Then in '94, we had the lockout. And then in '95, they sold half the team, Billy Swift and John Burkett and Will Clark and, you know, Mike Jackson and Robbie Thompson and Matt Williams and Kirt Manwaring. I mean, then I didn't understand it, but I didn't understand really the economics of baseball. And I guess they had lost a lot of money.

But I always thought that we could have won five or six years more after that '93 season. And even five or six years later, I was saying hello to everybody on every team that had been on my team before, Royce Clayton and Darren Lewis and Willie McGee. We had some great players at that time.

Then scuffle back and I've had some ups and downs, some disappointments, you know? But those disappointments make you stronger or they break you. So this has kind of been the story of my life where people tell me what you can't do or even now, I won a bunch of games, my teams won a bunch of games, and all I hear about is what you don't do, you don't like this or you don't like young players, you can't handle pitchers, you can't, and I'm like, well, damn, what did I do? You know what I mean?

After awhile I quit listening to folks telling me what I can't do. All that does is motivate me more to do it because I know there's a bunch of people in this country that are told the same thing, and it's broken a lot of people. But my faith in God and my mom and dad always talking to me made me persevere even more.

My mom, she told me a number of times, you know, like to be African American you got to be twice as good to achieve the same thing. I heard that over and over and over. And my dad would always tell me when I would get in fights and stuff and he would tell me, what would Jackie do? And I was like, you know, I'm not -- and Jackie wasn't a turn-the-cheek brother either. I'm damn sure not a turn-the-other-cheek dude, you know what I mean?

But you learn to co-exist with different people in the workplace.

Q. How cathartic is this win, not just for you, but this organization, given the controversy and the losses here in this building in 2019 and last year?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, yeah, I think that's what drove this team. That's what motivated them. The boos and the jeers that we got all over the country, it bothered these guys, but it also motivated them at the same time. And it wasn't an us against the world thing. It was more of a come together even closer-type thing.

And what happened before, it doesn't ever pass over completely. But we have turned the page and hopefully we'll continue this run because that's the thing, when I talk to James Click, and especially when I talk to Jim, he expects to win. He doesn't want to go from first to worst in a two- or three-year period. He wants this feeling and I like this feeling a lot. When I was a kid I hated the Celtics because they won too much. They beat the Lakers all the time. And I didn't like the Yankees because they won too much. They beat the Dodgers all the time.

But then when I got to be a player and a manager, I was yearning to be just like the Celtics and the Yankees. They were beating the teams. You know, it never gets old. When I look at Phil Jackson and I listen to him talk about how every year's a different challenge. So I've always welcomed that challenge.

Q. Before all this, you had achieved so much. You were viewed as a great manager before this. This didn't --

DUSTY BAKER: By some people.

Q. I think by most people.

DUSTY BAKER: Some people.

Q. Okay. I'll say most. We'll disagree on that.


Q. But this obviously is something that you want, you want to end up on top, and you have finally done it. What's going through your heart and mind right now? If you can take a slight step back. I know it's not been that long.

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I'm just grateful, really, for the trials and tribulations that you go through in order to get to this and just grateful for my mom and dad for being tough on me. Also grateful for some of the enemies that helped motivate me to get to this point, you know what I mean? You know, with no malice or anything because that doesn't do any good.

So you just got to do your thing. You asked me earlier what's kind of on my mind, and I've come to the point where I really don't care if you agree with me or not on what I do and how I do it. It's just the fact that over the years we've done it pretty good. So there ain't no sense in me trying to satisfy you. I'm just trying to satisfy those guys in the room there and trying to satisfy my boss and get a raise sooner or later (smiling).

Q. When the moment happened, when the final out took place, can you tell us what it was like for you?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I was counting the outs. I was counting the outs in the 8th and in the 9th. And then I heard my dad talking to me and my mom and my brother, who passed, and Don Baylor. I was thinking of Donnie today. He's on my wall. And Hank Aaron and Joe Black and all the guys that, Roy Campanella, Jim Gilliam, all the guys that, Al Kaline, guys that motivated me and guys that were in my corner. And I was thinking, you know, please, Press, no drama in the 9th. And I was saying, JR, man, give 'em your slider. That's what I was thinking.

Q. You mentioned a minute ago about that lesson you learned as a kid, having to work twice as hard. I wanted to ask you about how you think, where baseball is right now in terms of African Americans. I mean, you've set a great example as a manager, but there's still not many others. There's fewer players now, as well. How much progress do you think still needs to be made on that front?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, a lot of progress needs to be made. I mean, it didn't take overnight to get in this situation and it's not going to take overnight to get out of this situation. I mean, you see how many draft choices, top draft choices, were African American. I mean, they're not going to rush all the kids up here at the same time if they're not ready. But you have to have them in the pipeline in order to have some. And you got to also have some African American coaches and managers in the pipeline to have more.

Right now -- I told somebody 10 years ago that the way baseball was going -- and I love my Latin brothers, but, you know, we weren't going to need any African American coaches really. You're going to need either white coaches or Latin American coaches. Because you always -- I try to have a diversified staff where guys can relate to anybody on the staff and go talk to 'em.

I always had an African American dude, I always had a couple Latin dudes, I always had a sophisticated college dude, I always had some country white dudes that they can go talk to, you know what I mean? Because everybody needs somebody that they can talk to and relate to.

So, you know, we're not doing a real good job, but hopefully we'll keep talking about it. I've been saying the same thing for like 30, 40 years. I mean, how long can I say the same thing, you know what I mean, before the change is going to come. You know what I mean?

So I hope I'm around long enough, just like Jackie Robinson was hopeful that I would be in this position as a manager, like his speech in Cincinnati. So I hope I'm around long enough to see my son and some other dudes in the big leagues here in the near future.

Q. In so many ways it's incredible that your story converged with this team's story. On a night like this does it feel at all like it was meant to be that you were the manager of this team both for you and for them?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I felt that, I mean, when the scandal was exposed and then I was hired here, you know, oh, yeah, I felt it was meant to be. I felt that the Lord worked through Jim Crane, because I don't think I was probably first on his list to be hired here. But some of the guys that I had played with and his former players on his advisory staff indeed told him that I was probably the best guy for the job.

Yeah, I definitely thought it was meant to be. Big time. So I welcomed it. It's tough being away from home. I ain't been home in eight months. So I jumped headlong into this job with the goal of trying to win.

Q. I wanted to follow-up. You mentioned -- I know you talk a lot about your mom and dad, but you also talk about Hank Aaron and some of the others. Can you talk about what you think Hank would say and just what it means knowing that you had all those guys in your corner?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I was always the kid. I was always the youngest guy. I was in big league camp at 18, 19 years old. I was in the big leagues at 19. So I was always around older players, older guys.

And I always had a mama, a Black lady in the minor league town that I was in that wanted to be my mama. You know, that cooked for me and took care of me.

And I really believe, you know, last year was the year of Hank Aaron. And one of the worst days of my life was when my wife came in woke me up in the bed and told me Hank had died. And that was right before spring training.

But last year being the year of Hank Aaron, the Braves are supposed to win. I didn't like it. But maybe they were supposed to win.

And I'm like, Okay, Hank they won, okay, so now you really got to root for me. (Smiling.)

I'm sorry serious now. Yeah. So it was like, yeah, I'm sure he's smiling, he's happy. And, you know, all the players, like I said, that I played with and against when I was the young Dusty, I mean, I'm sure they're all happy too.

Q. Jeremy said he thought your best skill was getting the best out of guys. You mentioned different types of motivation over the years. How has that evolved for you and by extension what has this season taught you about yourself as a manager?

DUSTY BAKER: Well as you get older it taught me to go home and go to bed. Where, when I was much younger, I didn't, I didn't like to -- I like to hang out a little bit, you know what I mean? So that's what it taught me. Take care of myself.

And this is what, you know, since my cancer and then my stroke it made me appreciate life. It made me take better care of myself. I got two grandchildren now. I got a son, 23. So it's like you just, you know, it made me want to seize the day and try to be productive every day.

And then one thing I hear my dad always telling me, Try to do the right thing. And sometimes that's tough. You know what I mean? Because sometimes you want to do the selfish thing. But the right thing, whatever that is in your mind, that's what I try to do.

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