Nov 5, 2015, 12:17 PM EDT
Updated: 2:09 p.m.
New Nationals manager Dusty Baker walked into the interview room at Nats Park behind general manager Mike Rizzo. He thanked the ownership that was sitting to his left. He put on his No. 12 jersey and Nationals ‘Curly W’ hat.
He then proceeded to own the room like a man with his résumé and star power should. The Nationals hired a manager who has been there and done that across decades in the major leagues and one who can pull from his own life experience as a player, a coach and a man to answer any question asked.
Baker quoted Bill Russell, Bill Walsh and Nelson Mandela. He mentioned his acquaintance with President Barack Obama and other Washington politicians. He spoke of playing with Hank Aaron, coaching Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Joey Votto. He even invoked Stevie Wonder and The Doors when explaining how his style of coaching can transcend the tests of time.
If Matt Williams won his introductory press conference, what Dusty Baker accomplished was something else.
“I’ve always thought about possibly managing here in the District and in Washington, D.C. I see a lot of faces that I recognize. I have family and friends and my god-children are in Maryland. It’s like a family. It’s like coming home to a family,” Baker said.
Baker has been a big league manager for 20 seasons and has reached the World Series once, losing in seven games to the Angels in 2002. That’s as close as one can get without winning a title, and Baker made it clear that is his goal.
“You hate to have voids in your life. You can live without them, but I’d rather not,” he said.
This is Baker’s fourth managing job and he called it his last. He spoke about how much it means to him and his family to be given this opportunity.
“This is a big occasion in my life and in my family’s life. My son and daughter are very, very excited. My son gave me a whole list of Nationals shirts and jackets and jerseys and things that he wanted,” he said.
Baker was introduced as the Nats’ new manager after a bizarre saga that involved initial reports Bud Black would be the guy. General manager Mike Rizzo addressed that situation after the press conference.
“Well, that was wrong,” Rizzo said. “We had a very exhaustive process. We started off with nine candidates that we interviewed. We went painstakingly through each candidate. We finally called back seven of them and didn’t tell them that they weren’t in consideration for the job. We whittled it down to the final two candidates in Bud and Dusty and at the end of the day decided to go with Dusty.”
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