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2017 USMC Sports Hall of Fame: Johnnie

Johnnie B. "Dusty" Baker was born in Riverside, California on June 15, 1949.  Baker attended the Del Campo High School in Carmichael, Calif., where he competed in baseball, basketball, football, and track. In 1967, the Atlanta Braves drafted Baker where he began his baseball career as an outfielder.

In 1968, Baker enlisted into the United States Marine Corps Reserve, and served as an auto mechanic until his honorable discharge as a lance corporal in 1974.  

In 19 Major League seasons, Baker played for the Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, and Oakland Athletics. Baker earned Most Valuable Player of the 1977 National League Championship Series versus the Philadelphia Phillies posting a .357 batting average and hitting two home runs, eight runs batted in (RBIs), and a grand slam.  

Baker’s player accomplishments include his selection as an All-Star in 1981 and 1982; winning a pair of Silver Slugger Awards in 1980 and 1981; and earning the Rawlings Gold Glove Award in 1981. Baker also played in three World Series with the Dodgers and was a key player in the 1981 World Series win over the New York Yankees. At the completion of the 1986 season, Baker retired as a player finishing his career with a .278 batting average, 242 home runs, 1,013 RBI’s and 1,981 hits.

Baker began his coaching career as a first base coach for the San Francisco Giants in 1988, then spent the following four years (1989-1992) as the hitting coach, and finally became the manager in 1993, replacing the departing Roger Craig. In his very first year as the Giants manager, Baker won the National League Manager of the Year award. He led the team to a 103-59 record, which was 31 games better than the Giants 72-90 finish the previous year. His Giants went on to win division titles in 1997 and 2000; earning Baker the Manager of the Year honors in both years. 

In 2002, Baker’s Giants received the Wild-Card berth and advanced to the World Series, where they lost in seven games to the Anaheim Angels. It was during his San Francisco tenure that the late former Giants pitcher Rod Beck coined the term "Dustiny."  This term was used to illustrate the drastic change in luck the Giants had under Baker’s Managerial reign. Despite Baker’s success in San Francisco, the Giants decided to revamp the management staff, allowing him to begin a career as the manager for the Chicago Cubs in 2003.  

Baker made a major impact with the Cubs in his first season.  With the help of a dominating pitching staff and talented hitters, such as Sammy Sosa and Moisés Alou, the Cubs claimed their first divisional title in over a decade.  However, the Cubs’ hopes for winning a World Series title fell short during the 2003 National League Championship Series against the Florida Marlins.  After failing to reach the playoffs during the following three years, Chicago replaced Baker as the manager.  After a one-year stint as a broadcaster with ESPN, the Cincinnati Reds hired Baker as their manager in October 2007.

It took two years for Baker to turn the Red’s team around.  In 2010, he was successful in leading the team to the Nation League Central Division Title.  With Dusty Baker at the helm and the Reds hard work and dedication, they won their first division title in 15 years.  Baker took a leave of absent at the conclusion of the 2013 season.

Finally, in October 2015, Baker returned to baseball as the manager of the Washington Nationals. Baker steered the Nationals’ team to claim the National League East Division Title.  Johnnie B. "Dusty" Baker’s accumulated managerial record consist of 1,766 wins and 1,571 losses. 

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