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Dusty Baker: out of baseball, fighting off depression, trying to keep busy

Mar 26, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

Reds' manager Dusty Baker watches from the dugout as his team plays the Giants in Game 5 of their MLB NLDS playoff baseball series in Cincinnati Reuters

Dusty Baker was fired by the Reds after last season and hasn’t gotten a job elsewhere in baseball yet. Janie McCauley of the Associated Press caught up with him at his Sacramento-area home. He’s keeping busy with his vineyard and gardens, but it has not been an easy offseason for him:

The 64-year-old Baker made several inquiries about open managerial jobs over the winter but says he didn’t receive a single call back . . . While strolling through his vineyard, which has already given him three grape harvests, Baker mentions a short bout with what he figures was depression. Having a tough time getting up in the morning, he asked a buddy what might be wrong.

“I never knew depression,” Baker says. “I’ve got nothing to be bitter about. Life’s good for me. I’m not saying I don’t wake up upset every once in a while. I make sure I don’t stay there. You’ve got to get up and realize life is good. I don’t have anything to be sad or depressed about.”

It sounds as though he’s dealt with it well, and having his family — Darrin Baker is now 15-years-old somehow! — is obviously helpful. But it is sort of disquieting to see someone go from the dugout to … completely out of the game.

  1. renaado - Mar 26, 2014 at 1:03 PM

    Why not organize some baseball clinics then?

  2. spudchukar - Mar 26, 2014 at 1:04 PM

    There’s always the River Cats. Good Luck Dusty, could be a lot worse.

  3. cincinata - Mar 26, 2014 at 1:07 PM

    We had enough of the Duster. Good luck to him, but he is not going to be hired soon as a MLB manager by anyone. Why wouldn’t he be happy as a retired manager? He has enough money.

    • frank433 - Mar 26, 2014 at 1:31 PM

      Sometimes having enough of something, doesn’t (or can’t) make you happy. That isn’t how life works. You have something for so long that you become reliant on it, and then it is gone. There is a big hole to fill. How do you fill a hole that has been his whole life?

      • tfbuckfutter - Mar 26, 2014 at 2:23 PM

        I really thought this was going to be a joke about how he used his young pitchers.

        I am disappointed that it was earnest.

    • rdillon99 - Mar 26, 2014 at 1:58 PM

      Many people define themselves by what they do for a living. It is not necessarily an easy adjustment to go from his prior position to being unemployed, despite having every comfort that a person could reasonably want.

      • markb2301 - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:45 PM

        This is the age most men commit suicide for precisely that reason. Hopefully Dusty finds something to fill that void (he was a crappy manager, but still, he doesn’t seem like a bad guy).

  4. bluesoxbaseball - Mar 26, 2014 at 1:07 PM

    This is very disappointing. There should be room for Dusty somewhere in baseball. Let’s hope it doesn’t end here for him. He’s a great man.

  5. cohnjusack - Mar 26, 2014 at 1:07 PM

    Well…yeah…that’s what happens when you continue to cling to outdated philosophies and refuse to grow and improve at your job. He made the choice to become a dinosaur and this is the consequence of that.

    • stex52 - Mar 26, 2014 at 1:17 PM

      He stopped changing with the times. An easy error at his (my) age. But not so surprising. He succeeded for many years with the same approach. A hard thing to do is to see the same rules don’t apply anymore. I managed in my profession, but the majority don’t. I’m sorry for him because he gave a lot to the game in many ways and never saw himself leaving of it.

      You are not wrong, Cohn. But it’s not that easy a transition for most, either. I hope Dusty sees all the good stuff in retrospect.

      • jazynaz - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:50 PM

        having children around you as you age (he obviously had his son late), apparently doesn’t always keep us thinking young and adjusting with the times. we’re not all the same, change is not easy or automatic for all of us.

  6. gostlcards5 - Mar 26, 2014 at 1:20 PM

    Darrin Baker is 15 years old….thanks to JT Snow preventing him from getting crushed at home during the playoffs.

  7. tfbuckfutter - Mar 26, 2014 at 1:20 PM

    I wonder about his gardening techniques….Does he just keep watering the seedlings even after they surface, float across his yard and down the street?

    • bkertz - Mar 26, 2014 at 1:30 PM

      I am sure he sacrrifices plenty of his seedlings in order to give the stronger plants more room to grow.

    • crackersnap - Mar 26, 2014 at 1:36 PM

      Nah. That’s not the Dusty style.

      As soon as the seedling pokes it’s promising shoot above the soil, that’s when Baker plucks it out and sets it aside, handing the shoot its own honorary plant marker, and inserts one of those already mature green shrubs with the very pretty puff-ball of white, snowy, floaty things at the top of a tall, healthy, stem.

      How can this strategy possibly go wrong?

  8. mcs7584 - Mar 26, 2014 at 1:57 PM

    “I don’t have anything to be sad or depressed about.”

    As someone who has fought depression – and still does, to some degree – I’ve heard that line more than once. But, simply saying “I don’t have anything to be sad or depressed about” doesn’t recognize depression for what it is – a serious disease. While depressive symptoms can be spurred by a stressful or traumatic event in one’s life – such as losing a job in Dusty Baker’s case – there’s a better chance someone with depression has a genetic family history and/or chemical imbalance. In other words, there doesn’t have to be something “wrong” for a person to have depression, and often it makes no sense to others. Rather than trying to convince someone with depression or depressive symptoms that things are “fine,” try to understand them and offer to help.

    I’m not suggesting that Baker is depressed but my point is larger than that. Poking fun of one who is or might be struggling with this disease – even in the most minor of cases – is anything but helpful. I’m certainly not standing up for or commenting on Baker’s track record or ability to manage. That’s neither for me or, frankly, any of us to decide. But what I am saying is that comments like “could be a lot worse” and “he made a choice … ” are not solutions and are not helpful. Please be mindful of this and avoid patronizing the individual.

    • frank433 - Mar 26, 2014 at 2:34 PM

      To quote Rick James (possibly out of context) “Depression is a hell of a disease.”

  9. yahmule - Mar 26, 2014 at 2:38 PM

    His wife is the one who’s probably ready to pull her hair out right now.

    • jazynaz - Mar 26, 2014 at 7:02 PM

      really. hopefully he finds things to do with all that new found free time, like in his winery, etc. watching someone “mope around” depressed is really uncomfortable, makes you feel helpless of knowing how to help, and can be aggravating and makes family depressed and sometimes resentful waiting/hoping for them to “come out of it.” i know that that description over-simplifies what is actually happening, but that is also part of it. for all concerned it can feel like it may never end. getting help helps!

  10. metalhead65 - Mar 26, 2014 at 3:43 PM

    as reds fan my bout with depression is over now that you are not managing the team anymore. no more resting the hot bats so the cold ones on the bench can get luke warm. no more leaving the starter in for that 1 more inning when everyone but you could tell he was done then watching him get lit up during that inning. no more watching a prospect sit on the bench while you play the veteran who is batting .132 no more marching the same guy out everyday even though he is in the middle of a 0-32 streak. no more batting a guy second because he is fast. no more watching you blow a 2-0 lead in the playoffs going by the book of dusty.

    • bringbackkosar - Mar 26, 2014 at 3:59 PM

      you forgot lefty must follow righty must follow lefty etc in batting order, no ifs ands or buts

    • contraryguy - Mar 26, 2014 at 4:18 PM

      “… no more leaving the starter in for that 1 more inning when everyone but you could tell he was done then watching him get lit up during that inning …

      That time he let Homer go thru a 7-run plastering without so much as a visit by him or Price…. maddening. Will be glad when the season starts and stories like these are left to All-Star break filler or better yet just let him fade out of the game entirely.

  11. Bob - Mar 26, 2014 at 3:47 PM

    Good baseball man and hope he resurfaces somewhere. But he should never be allowed to be a big-league manager again, and he definitely should never again be allowed to be in charge of a pitching staff.

  12. bringbackkosar - Mar 26, 2014 at 4:07 PM

    how about Stubbs (career .310 OBP) leading off and Cozart (career .287 OPB) in the 2 hole for most of 2012, now that was a stroke of Dusty genius too.

    • ken14andersonforhof - Mar 26, 2014 at 4:21 PM

      simple…just like in the NFL(Not For Long) league, if you SUCK at what you do, you wont have a job very long, he should have never been the Reds manager to begin with…but he was hired to quell racial disturbance incidents that were going on in Cincinnati at the time…believe it or not…he was hired to keep black youths from tipping over hotdog carts on fountain square…check local news at the time if you don’t believe me…

    • thomas844 - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:18 PM

      Yeah, Dusty should be ashamed of that 2012 year where his team won 97 games.

  13. thenaturalmevs - Mar 26, 2014 at 4:17 PM

    He’s got a few million reasons not to be depressed.

  14. zdravit - Mar 26, 2014 at 4:23 PM

    He’s reflecting on all of the great careers he ruined. The guilt is unbearable. Suicide watch.

  15. lukedunphysscienceproject - Mar 26, 2014 at 5:42 PM

    Hope he had fun dismissing and belittling all of the new age baseball saber metric nonsense he was too smart to fall for while he was a manager. Must have been a real chucklefest watching all of those kids with their computers and pocket protectors and whatnot telling him he should stop trying to kill his pitchers.

    And being old is no excuse. He’s only 4 years older than Joe Madden, and no one is saying the game’s passed him by. Dusty refused to change and has made himself obsolete.

  16. flyeredup - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:37 PM

    He will always be a Class A Jerk. Intentionally had his pitchers hit opposing super stars. Good riddance.

  17. jrclark1978 - Mar 27, 2014 at 6:47 AM

    Is he depressed about not having a job, or is he depressed about being the most overrated MLB manager of his generation? Seems like he should just stick to gardening.

  18. mgv38 - Mar 27, 2014 at 12:33 PM

    No sour grapes here.

  19. bklynbaseball - Mar 27, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    Wow. As someone who actually knows Dusty Baker, I wish him only the best. One of the most genuine, up-front and honest, and funniest guys I met in the game – a terrific baseball IQ, definitely “old school,” and well-respected throughout the game. And a really nice man to boot.

  20. matthrws82 - Apr 1, 2014 at 8:24 AM

    he could try to be an announcer maybe not what he would want to do but at least he would still be in the game

  21. doctorrustbelt - Apr 29, 2015 at 12:47 PM


    All the best with your retirement.

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