Astros players were stunned to learn Dusty Baker's real name


Fans lined the streets of downtown Houston for Monday’s victory parade, coming together in celebration of the Astros’ second World Series in franchise history. Houston’s championship, erasing a 2-1 series deficit to beat the Phillies in six games, was a step toward legitimizing the Astros’ current dynasty, with their previous title seen as tainted, forever tarnished by the team’s highly-publicized sign-stealing scandal.

While the overwhelming majority of fans (many of them still harboring a grudge from 2017) were rooting for Philadelphia to pull off the upset, most could admit they were at least happy for manager Dusty Baker, finally getting over the hump a quarter-century into his managerial career. The oldest manager to win a World Series at 73 years young, the toothpick-chewing, leather-glove-wearing fan favorite waited his entire life for this, with Saturday’s coronation firmly cementing his place in MLB history.

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Ninth all-time with 2,093 wins to his major-league credit, it’s been a long time coming for Baker, who has suffered countless heartbreaks over his 20+ years in the dugout, including World Series defeats in both 2002 and 2021, not to mention the Steve Bartman debacle of 2003. But those setbacks only made Saturday’s ascendance that much sweeter, culminating in a moment of exhilarating satisfaction, a cherished memory Baker will be squeezing tight for fear of ever losing it.

Mobbed by players who would run through a wall for him, Baker has clearly built something special in Houston. But for all their comradery, forming lifelong bonds that will never be broken, most of Baker’s pupils still don’t know his real first name. You’d think, after spending practically every waking moment together since spring training, the subject would have come up organically by now, but apparently not with Christian Vazquez, Kyle Tucker, Mauricio Dubon and World Series MVP Jeremy Peña all learning Baker’s birth name (“Johnnie,” for those wondering) for the first time.

The genesis of “Dusty” comes from Baker’s childhood proclivity for playing in dirt, a prophetic moniker foreshadowing his future career in the major leagues. The name has stuck with him ever since, following Baker all the way to Monday’s parade in Houston. Even if players weren’t privy to the name specified on his birth certificate, their respect for Baker was evident throughout the Astros’ World Series run, rewarding their skipper with dominant pitching and timely hitting, a formula they’ll look to replicate in 2023.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Harry How, Getty Images