HOUSTON – Dusty Baker, the Houston Astros manager and one of the most successful managers in baseball history, is retiring.
According to a report from USA Today, Baker informed Astros owner Jim Crane in a private meeting on Tuesday of his plans to retire.
Baker was in the final year of his contract after re-signing earlier this year, following his 2022 World Series win. He has managed baseball teams, including the Astros, for 26 years
“I’m very grateful and thankful to (owner) Jim Crane and the Houston Astros for giving me this opportunity, and to win a championship,’’ Baker told the newspaper. “I felt like they’ve been good for me, and I’ve been good for them. What I really appreciate is that Jim has been totally honest and transparent with me on all things.’’
Baker told USA Today he reportedly wants to remain involved in an advisory role, either with the Astros or with another MLB team.
“I’ve still got a lot to offer; baseball has been my life,’’ said Baker. “I have a lifetime of knowledge, much more than those who have never played the game.’’
Messages were left by the AP seeking comment from the 74-year-old Baker.
Baker stepped down after his fourth season with the Astros, who came one win shy of reaching the World Series for a third straight year with a loss to the Rangers on Monday night.
The toothpick-chewer and epic storyteller, who seemed to know just about everybody, finished his career ranked ninth with 2,183 victories in 4,046 regular-season games. He was the 12th manager in major league history to reach 2,000 wins and the first Black man to accomplish the feat.
Ten of the other 11 managers who have accumulated at least 2,000 wins are in the Hall of Fame. Bruce Bochy (2,093), who is still managing the Texas Rangers and isn’t yet eligible, is the only exception.
“Dusty Baker is a legend in this sport,” shortstop Jeremy Peña said Monday night. “I’ve loved every single day that I’ve gotten to share with him on this ballclub. He’s been great for me. He’s shown so much confidence in me. He’s been a great manager.”
Baker began managing in 1993 after a 19-year playing career as an outfielder. He played with Hank Aaron in Atlanta and won a World Series with the Dodgers in 1981.
Baker managed San Francisco, the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati and Washington before coming to Houston. He’s the only manager in major league history to take five different teams to the postseason.
He came to the Astros to help clean up their image in the wake of their sign-stealing scandal that cost manager A.J. Hinch his job.
Baker posted a 320-226 record with the Astros, leading them to the playoffs in each of his four seasons and winning the pennant twice.
He is one of three Black managers to win a World Series, joining Dave Roberts (Dodgers, 2020) and Cito Gaston (Blue Jays, 1992 and 1993).
Baker made two World Series trips before winning it all with Houston last season. Baker and the Astros fell to the Braves in six games in 2021 after his most crushing defeat in the Fall Classic in 2002.
Baker’s San Francisco Giants starring Barry Bonds entered Game 6 against the Angels a win away from a title. As the road team for the last two games of that series, the Giants squandered a five-run lead in a 6-5 loss in the sixth game before the Angels won the title with a 4-1 victory in Game 7.
After being fired by the Nationals following a 97-win season in 2017, Baker wondered if he’d ever get another shot to manage, much less win that elusive title.
Back home in California, as he worked on his wine business and grew collard greens in his garden, he often felt perplexed he had been passed over for interviews so many times as managerial openings came and went, having made inquiries that he said were unanswered over the years.
Then came Crane’s call after the sign-stealing scandal, and Baker was back in the dugout.
Baker took over for the 2020 COVID-19-shortened season. The Astros squeaked into the postseason as a wild card before heating up in the playoffs and coming one win shy of reaching the World Series.
Baker was lifelong friends with Aaron, who died in 2021. He was on deck and among the Braves congregated at the plate to celebrate with Aaron on April 8, 1974, when he hit his 715th home run to pass Babe Ruth for most all-time.
A news conference was held Thursday, where Baker made a formal announcement of his departure from the team.
“I would first like to say thank you to Jim Crane and family for giving me this opportunity over the last four years,” Baker said. “It has been a tremendous honor to be the leader of this ballclub. Thank you to the fans for their unwavering passion. The amount of love I’ve received in my time in Houston has been unmatched.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.