Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker hauled his pickup truck to Palm Beach International Airport at 6:30 a.m. Monday, carrying suitcases from the back and walking around, hugging his roommate as hard as he could.
He looked at him. Tears welled up in each other’s eyes. And then hugged again.
“He’s an incredible roommate,” Baker told USA Today Sports. “I’m so proud of him because he’s a good roommate. He just wanted the room with me, and it was a great spring, really, the best spring I’ve ever had.
Darren Baker, 23, son of roommate Dusty.
“It’s emotional, of course, I do not know when I will be able to see him again,” Darren said
Darren travels to Wilmington, Delaware, where he will play second for the Blue Rocks, the Washington Nationals Class A team, on April 8 against Brooklyn. Dusty travels to California, where the Astros will open the season against Los Angeles on April 7.
MLB 2022: 100 names you need to know for the new season
Predictions: Predicting each team’s record for 2022
The two spent six weeks together this spring, visiting the Astros’ mini-league players during the Dusty lockout, and had to share the same spring-training campus with a specific miner-league with the Washington Nationals.
“He came a couple of times trying to go unnoticed,” Darren said, “but I always knew when he was around. He looked at me through the fence and somehow always noticed him there.”
They stayed together three or four times a week in Dusty’s condo near Juno Beach, about 30 minutes from campus. They rarely cooked, except when Darren’s mother and Dusty’s wife, Melissa, arrived within two weeks. They would go out to eat or Dusty would pick up food from a restaurant and bring it home.
“It was good for him because I paid for it,” Baker laughed. “I made sure he ate well to increase his weight. I had a hard time keeping weight while playing until I became a man. Like all bakers, Darren is a late bloomer. He has not shaved yet. Neither do I.”
The two go back to the condo, Melissa Fasting at home in Sacramento, and, of course, make sure the dishes are over and the trash is taken out and the nights always end the same way.
“They had a rule that there would be no dirty food in the sink every night,” Melissa said.
They did not carpool to work with different tables. Dusty had his pickup truck. Darren had a Toyota Corolla. Most nights, Darren slept later than Dusty. Most mornings, he wakes up early too.
“It’s been a lot of fun with the taps in the house, every time I turn on the tap at 6:30 in the morning,” Darren said, “he hears it through the walls and in the room. He knows I woke up just in time.
Dusty: “I know, he’s never been late.”
Family and friends will also be visiting the city. Longtime family friend David Donati spent almost a week on Jupiter watching father and son discuss their day at dinner.
“It was so beautiful to see them together,” Donati said, “it was so much fun creating Dusty.
Not only in the spring, but as a highlight of Dusty’s life, he says, on the afternoon of March 20th. The Astros played the Nationals for the first time this spring.
Nationals manager Dave Martinez called Darren 20 minutes before game and said he was playing. Oh, and one more thing, he is also responsible for taking the lineup card to the home plate.
Dusty knew Martinez had promised he would get into a major league game against Darren Astros in the winter, but never thought it would happen so soon.
“It shocked me,” Dusty said. “I’m on the bench, I see someone waving at me from their dig. I do not know who it is. I see, he’s waving at me to come out. I started walking outside and said, ‘That’s my son.’ ” ‘
They walked to the home plate, Darren came first, shook hands with the jury, and then hugged. They exchanged line cards, looked at each other, and hugged again. They are going to hug one last time until the referees smile and say no more hugs.
Before retreating to their benches, Darren said, “Dad, you know we’ll beat you.”
Darren entered the game in the second pace in the sixth inning, hit a single with his first swing bat in the seventh inning and hit a successful sacrifice in the eighth inning. .
Jorge Santiago, a family friend who was in the game with the Packers, said, “I had a flashback to his birthday. I still remember when I was 1 year old he hit batting tea, broke the stuff in the house when he was hit, and Melissa yelled, ‘Darren, stop hitting that ball.’
Dusty brought the lineup card home and handed it to Darren. Sequence card and pictures from the game will be kept mainly in the Baker Memorial Room.
Baker, who won the World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who managed two different teams in the World Series, said, “It was the greatest joy of my career.” I will never forget watching his first big league win in the same spring training city where I first started with Braves. ”
The two went home that evening and shared the moment with Melissa, but did not really celebrate. Two Baker men were doing their job.
Now, 54 years later, Dusty is coming to the 10th round selection from the University of California after first training in the spring to start his 19-year career as a 26th round draft selector in West Palm Beach. Darren hit .303 with 58 stolen bases for Cal, but Baker says his son earned an honors degree in four years at Cal. Pac-12 Tom Hansen received the Pac-12 Award for Outstanding Combination of Performance and Achievement in Scholarship, Athletics and Leadership.
“This is what made me so proud to have graduated from a great company,” Baker said. “I know you play ball, but I will always remind him that you are a student-athlete. He has a lot of discipline in going to college and that made him a man.
Baker, who enjoyed watching Darren in between administrative tasks, tells stories about an Alaska fishing trip with family friend Ken Tennell in the summer of 2019. One day, he will have more time to spend with his son. The 72-year-old Baker doesn’t know if this will be his last season as manager, but if it is, there is still a special day waiting.
It was July 19, the 92nd All-Star Game, played at Dodger Stadium for the first time since 1980.
Baker, who spent eight years with the Dodgers, helped lead them to the 1981 World Series Championship, and wears the No. 12 in memory of former Dodgers great Tommy Davis, who manages the American League All-Star team.
“I’m definitely thinking about it,” Darren said. “I know how special it was for my dad, frankly, I want to go.
“But it could be a slightly different situation.”
Darren may be playing simultaneously in a small league all-star game.
“It’s not a bar,” Dusty said. “Since we’re sharing together this spring, nothing comes first. Will be together.
Darren said: “That was right.”