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Dusty Baker wins Baseball Digest lifetime achievement award

NEW YORK (AP) — Sacramento-area native Dusty Baker has won the fourth Lifetime Achievement Award presented by Baseball Digest.

The beloved Baker retired following the 2023 season after spending 56 years in the majors as a player, coach and manager. He was honored Thursday with an annual distinction that “recognizes a living individual whose career has been spent in or around Major League Baseball and who has made significant contributions to the game.”

Willie Mays won the inaugural award in 2021, followed by Vin Scully in 2022 and Joe Torre last year.

“Receiving this award is a tremendous honor,” Baker said in a news release. “I never thought that I’d be in the class of the people that received this award. I know that my late mom and dad would be proud of me. This is really special.”

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The 74-year-old Baker broke into the big leagues as a teenager with the Atlanta Braves in 1968 and played 19 seasons. He made two All-Star teams, won two Silver Slugger awards and earned a Gold Glove in the outfield.

He was the 1977 NL Championship Series MVP and finished fourth in 1980 NL MVP voting before helping the Los Angeles Dodgers win the 1981 World Series.

Following his playing career, Baker was a coach for the San Francisco Giants from 1988-92 and then became their manager in 1993. He won the first of his three NL Manager of the Year awards with the Giants that season and spent 26 years as a big league skipper, also guiding the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Washington Nationals and Houston Astros.

Baker took all those teams to the playoffs, winning 10 division crowns, three pennants and finally a World Series championship in 2022 with the Astros. He ranks seventh on the career list with 2,183 wins and is the only manager in major league history to lead five franchises to division titles.

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In January, he returned to the Giants as a special adviser to baseball operations.

“On behalf of Major League Baseball, I am honored to congratulate Dusty Baker as the 2024 recipient of Baseball Digest’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He joins an incredible club,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said. “Dusty represents leadership, goodwill, and winning baseball. His ability to connect with others, across generations, is second to none. He is a championship manager and player. But, most importantly, Dusty is an extraordinary ambassador for our national pastime.”

Baker was selected in voting by an 18-member panel from a list of candidates that also included Bob Costas, Sandy Koufax, Tony La Russa, Jim Leyland, Rachel Robinson and Bud Selig, among others.

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