Astros manager Dusty Baker announced yesterday that he’s retiring. He leaves behind an interesting aesthetic legacy — not as deep as, say, Buck Showalter’s, but much deeper than that of the typical MLB skipper. I’ve written about Baker before, but now that he’s stepping down, it seems appropriate to recap the key components of his on-field style:
1. The JrOB
Baker didn’t wear “Jr.” as part of his NOB as a player or in his first four managerial stints (with the Giants, Cubs, Reds, and Nationals). But when he joined the Astros in 2020, he added the generational suffix. I’m pretty sure he was first — and still only? — MLB manager to do this.
2. The Toothpick
It’s hard to imagine Baker without his signature splinter, which is such an essential accessory that it was included as part of a Baker bobblehead in 2011. MLB.com once tried to figure out how many of them he’d gone though, and there’s even a box of them at the Hall of Fame! I’m sure he wasn’t the first MLB skipper to chomp on a toothpick, but I suspect he’ll be the last.
3. The Wristbands
There’s something really endearing about the way Baker kept wearing those Mimsbandz wristbands with the not-very-good depiction of himself.
4. The Gloves
During the Covid epidemic, Baker routinely wore gloves on the field as a precaution. (He also wore a mask, which wreaked havoc with his toothpick habit.)
5. The Wrong Cap
Dusty Baker wearing the wrong cap in the dugout tonight. pic.twitter.com/a9zg6hysmH
— #justjoshin (@josh_claywell) October 23, 2023
On Sunday night, in what turned out to be Baker’s next-to-last game, he wore an orange-brimmed cap while the rest of the ’Stros wore solid-navy — perhaps a sign, if you believe in such things, that his tenure was coming to an end. I don’t really believe that myself, but you could definitely view it as an omen.
In any case, Baker was always an interesting character who made the game more fun. He’ll be missed here at Uni Watch HQ. Enjoy your retirement, Dusty.