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Astros' Dusty Baker makes history as 1st Black MLB manager to win 2,000 games

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Last night, the Houston Astros soundly beat the Seattle Mariners. But it wasn't just that victory that got Astros fans cheering. The hometown crowd was also celebrating a major milestone for the team's manager, Dusty Baker.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: He got them. Astros win 4-0, and there it is.

(SOUNDBITE OF EXPLOSION)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Dusty Baker, career win No. 2,000 as a manager. His...

(SOUNDBITE OF EXPLOSION)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: ...Much-anticipated place in Cooperstown is now solidified - 1 of 12 all time. Congratulations, Dusty.

ADRIAN FLORIDO, HOST:

Not just that, but he's the first African American manager to hit that 2,000 milestone. After the game, Baker was quick to acknowledge that baseball is a team sport.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DUSTY BAKER: Thanks to everybody. Thanks for all the support.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD CHEERING)

BAKER: No, thanks to the players because I couldn't do without them, and...

SHAPIRO: Baker is a baseball lifer. He's 72 years old, has been a manager in the MLB since 1993 and has led five teams in the course of nearly 30 years. His career started as a player with the 1968 Atlanta Braves and with some pretty cool company.

HOWARD BRYANT: One of the amazing things about Dusty is he was a rookie in 1968, and he was in the dugout with - for a very brief time, there was Dusty Baker and Hank Aaron and Satchel Paige all in the same dugout with the Atlanta Braves in '68.

FLORIDO: That's Howard Bryant, senior writer for ESPN and a friend of Baker's. Bryant says that the key to Baker's success as a manager was his ability to keep his ego out of it.

BRYANT: He never tried to be bigger than the players. He knows that the players win the game. He has respect for what the players do. He never believes that he is the solution. He always knows that they're the solution. And Dusty has that special gift of really making people invest in wanting to succeed, not just for themselves, but for him.

FLORIDO: Not only that, but Bryant says Baker knows how to bring teams together.

BRYANT: Whatever teams he manages - whether it was Washington or Chicago, Cincinnati - he's always made sure that the different players from different ethnicities brought in food to the clubhouse, really make it a family atmosphere. And that's some of the things he really prides himself on.

SHAPIRO: The next winning achievement Dusty Baker is shooting for as a manager - four games to win the World Series. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.