“I’ve still got a lot to offer; baseball has been my life,” Baker told the newspaper. “I have a lifetime of knowledge, much more than those who have never played the game.”
Baker’s Astros were recently eliminated in the American League Championship Series by the Texas Rangers, thus ending their 2023 season. The loss was accompanied by speculation that the 74-year-old Baker would step down and opt for retirement. His run with Houston ends after four seasons, two pennants, and one World Series title in 2021 — the first World Series title of Baker’s managerial career.
“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,” Baker said in a press release from the team. “Thank you to all my players and coaches for their many sacrifices on our multiple pursuits to a World Series title. You all gave me all you had every day and that’s all I can ever ask for. Lastly, I want to say thank you to all my friends and family. I have immense gratitude for all of the love and support you have shown me throughout the years and I can’t say thank you enough. This isn’t a goodbye, it’s simply a See You Later.”
That managerial career was as sprawling as it was excellent. After spending parts of 19 seasons in the majors as an All-Star outfielder, Baker joined the San Francisco Giants as manager in 1993 and eventually guided them to three postseason berths, including a pennant in 2002. From there came managerial stints with the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Washington Nationals, and finally Astros. He led each of those teams to the playoffs and won a total of three pennants and three NL Manager of the Year awards.
In the end, Baker in the dugout amassed a record of 2,183-1,862. Those 2,183 wins rank seventh all-time. As well, Baker’s 57 career postseason wins rank fourth all-time. His 13 total postseason appearances also rank fourth among major-league managers. Baker was also the first Black manager to register 2,000 career wins.
Baker had a strong Hall of Fame case as a manager even before he at last broke through and won a ring in 2022, but the championship veneer all but ensures he’ll one day get a plaque in Cooperstown.
As for the Astros, they’re left in need of a new manager for the 2024 season and beyond as they try to extend the current window of contention that’s seen them win a pair of World Series since 2017 and make it least as far as the ALCS in seven straight seasons.