LOS ANGELES — An emotional Dusty Baker walked the field at Dodger Stadium before Tuesday’s All-Star Game. He grew up in Riverside, an hour’s drive away on those imaginary occasions when traffic is light. He played for the Dodgers, of course, during an outstanding career. At 73, the Astros skipper led the American League to a 3-2 victory in the first Midsummer Classic at this iconic ballpark since 1980.
“Life has come full circle for me,” he said.
Baker thought back to 1980, another year when the National League roster was loaded with Dodgers. The home team had six players in Tuesday’s game, just as 42 years ago it had Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell, Reggie Smith, Jerry Reuss and Bob Welch doing the honors. But not Baker — even though he was hitting .291 with 18 homers and 53 RBI at the break on the way to finishing fourth in MVP voting.
“I was a little hurt because I wasn’t chosen,” he said.
Baker hoped his Astros All-Stars wouldn’t be booed this time by fans remembering the 2017 sign-stealing scandal — which predated Baker, outfielder Kyle Tucker and pitcher Framber Valdez in Houston — but the boos came anyway during pregame introductions. Baker was even booed himself.
“I just wonder about the forgiveness of mankind,” he said beforehand.
On the whole, though, it was a visit to remember. Darren Baker, Dusty’s son — you might remember him as the world’s tiniest bat boy in the 2002 postseason — even played in Saturday’s All-Star Futures Game here as a Nationals minor leaguer.
“Just thinking about my past and thinking about my son,” Baker said.
More of the same
The NL led 2-0 after Cardinals slugger Paul Goldschmidt’s first-inning homer off the Rays’ Shane McLanahan, but it didn’t hold up. Imagine that.
The AL tied it in the fourth on a mammoth two-run shot by the Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton off Dodger Tony Gonsolin, and the Twins’ Byron Buxton came up next and homered for the lead. Tigers closer Emmanuel Clase was untouchable in the ninth, striking out three straight hitters.
That’s nine straight wins for the AL, 16 in the last 19 tries and 21 in the last 25. Crazy, isn’t it?
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred referred to the Oakland Coliseum as “not a major league-quality facility” during a meeting with reporters, and said relocation could be considered — Las Vegas, anyone? — if the A’s don’t quickly reach a binding agreement for a new ballpark in the Bay Area.
Manfred also called out Tropicana Field — another blight on the sport — and said the league wants the Rays to build a new stadium in Tampa rather than St. Petersburg.
If these matters are resolved, the league might expand from 30 to 32 teams — but not before.
Dodgers All-Star Mookie Betts led the crowd in a rousing “Happy birthday!” to Rachel Robinson, widow of the great Jackie Robinson, on her 100th birthday.
The occasion was marked 42 years after the last All-Star Game here. Former Dodger Robinson wore No. 42, of course.
Celebs Denzel Washington and Magic Johnson had roles in what was a really nice pregame moment on the field.
Braves All-Star Max Fried sent a shout-out to childhood buddy and high school teammate Lucas Giolito and said big things can be expected of the White Sox right-hander after a frustrating first half. The pitchers check in with each other after each of their starts.
“He’s one of the more responsible people you’ll ever know and holds himself accountable,” Fried said. “He’s going to do everything in his power to right the ship, and I’d be very confident in him if I were the fans in Chicago.”