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Del Baker

Del Baker
Baker in 1941
Born: (1892-05-03)May 3, 1892
Sherwood, Oregon
Died: September 11, 1973(1973-09-11) (aged 81)
Olmos Park, Texas
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 16, 1914 for the Detroit Tigers
Last MLB appearance
September 30, 1916 for the Detroit Tigers
Career statistics
Batting average .209
Home runs 0
Runs batted in 22
Career highlights and awards
  • Manager of 1940 American League champion Tigers
  • Delmer David Baker (May 3, 1892 – September 11, 1973) was an American catcher, coach and manager in Major League Baseball (MLB). As a manager, he led the 1940 Detroit Tigers to the American League pennant. As a coach, he was known as one of the premier "sign stealers" in baseball.[1]

    Player and minor league manager

    Born in Sherwood, Oregon, and raised in neighboring Wilsonville,[2] Baker played extensively in the minor leagues. He did appear in 172 Major League games over three seasons (1914–16) with the Tigers, batting .209 with no home runs and 22 runs batted in (RBIs). After managing Detroit's Texas League farm team, the Beaumont Exporters, to 100 victories and the 1932 championship, Baker was named a Tigers coach under Bucky Harris for 1933.

    Tigers coach and skipper

    He remained in that role under new playing manager Mickey Cochrane when the Tigers won back-to-back AL pennants in 1934–35, and their first ever World Series title in 1935. Baker, as Detroit's "senior coach," took over as acting manager three times: in 1933, when Harris was fired at the end of the season, then temporarily in the midseasons of 1936 (when Cochrane took a leave of absence for a bout of depression) and 1937 (when Mickey was hit in the head by a pitched ball and suffered a fractured skull that ended his playing career).[3]

    In 1938, the Tigers started poorly and by August 7 they had won only 47 of 98 games. Cochrane was released as skipper, and Baker was given the permanent job. He rallied Detroit to 37 wins in 56 games, enough to finish in the first division, but Detroit slipped to fifth in 1939.

    Manager of 1940 AL champs

    File:Hank Greenberg and Del Baker 1941.png
    Baker meets with Hank Greenberg in 1941 before Greenberg departs for World War II.

    The following season, 1940, saw the New York Yankees (league and world champions four years running) drop out of the race, and the Tigers and Cleveland Indians battle for the flag. On the final day of the season with the clubs tied, Baker chose obscure rookie pitcher Floyd Giebell to pitch the crucial contest — and he defeated future Hall of Famer Bob Feller and the Tribe, 2–0, to win the pennant by a game. In the 1940 World Series, however, Detroit lost in seven games to the Cincinnati Reds, despite the pitching heroics of well-traveled veteran Bobo Newsom.

    With World War II on the horizon, the 1941 season was marked by the call to active military service of several baseball stars. One was the Tigers' great power hitter, Hank Greenberg. With him missing from the lineup, and with Newsom ineffective, Detroit fell below .500 that season, and again in 1942. Baker was released, and replaced by Steve O'Neill.

    Late career

    He then returned to the coaching ranks with Cleveland (1943–44) and the Boston Red Sox (1945–48; 1953–60). From 1949–51, he served as skipper of the Sacramento Solons and the San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League. In his final season, 1960, Baker managed one last time in the big leagues as Boston's interim pilot from June 8–12 between Billy Jurges' firing and Pinky Higgins' rehiring. Under Baker, the last-place Red Sox won two games and lost five. He retired from the game after his 50th season in baseball, his last day overshadowed by Ted Williams' last game as a player.

    Baker died at age 81 in Olmos Park, Texas.[4]

    Baker's career major league managing record: 412 wins, 357 losses (.536) over all or parts of nine seasons.


    1. ^ The New York Times. September 12, 1973.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
    2. ^ Lednicer, Lisa Grace (March 10, 2005). "Wilsonville steers past a dead end for street names". The Oregonian. p. D2. 
    3. ^ Baseball Encyclopedia. The MacMillan. 
    4. ^ "Del Baker dies at 80". The Palm Beach Post. UPI. September 12, 1973. Retrieved June 5, 2014. 

    External links

    Preceded by
    Bucky Harris
    Mickey Cochrane
    Detroit Tigers manager
    Succeeded by
    Mickey Cochrane
    Steve O'Neill
    Preceded by
    Billy Jurges
    Boston Red Sox manager
    Succeeded by
    Pinky Higgins