The Bakers are the coolest family in baseball
Posted on June 27, 2013
Instagram of Manager Dusty Baker #12 and his son Darren Baker of the Cincinnati Reds siting in the dugout before the game against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum on Wednesday June 26, 2013 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin)
Yesterday afternoon I headed out to the Oakland Coliseum to shoot a ho-hum afternoon game between the amazing Oakland A’s and the visiting Cincinnati Reds. During this time of the year the light is pretty bad, especially for a 12:35 pm start. Even though I knew the light would suck I held out hope that the day would be fun. A day at the ballpark is ALWAYS fun. I get to see my friends and talk some ball. Yesterday was a special day at the yard because I got to see and photograph the coolest guy I have ever met in baseball, Reds manager Dusty Baker, and his son Darren Baker.
I am not old enough to have photographed Dusty during his playing days. I started photographing him while he was a coach with the Giants in the late 1980′s. I really started to photograph Dusty seriously when he became the Giants manager in 1993. His hiring coincided with a terrific run with the Giants that saw him take the team to a World Series and win the manager of the year award three times.
Dusty has always been a photographers dream. He is never afraid to show his emotion, whether his team is winning or losing. He has a fantastic smile and it not afraid to show it. During his years with the Giants that smile was ever-present, especially when his son Darren was old enough to start hanging around the ballpark with his dad.
Of course most baseball fans will remember Darren from the famous moment in Game 5 of the 2002 World Series against the Angels in San Francisco when Giants first baseman J.T. Snow rescued him from getting squished at home plate. This moment will forever emblazon the image of the three-year-old Darren in the minds of anyone who saw it.
Of course, this famous moment was photographed from various angles all over the ballpark by many of my friends and colleagues that night. Do I have the picture? Of course not! I was shooting on assignment for MLB Photos from the overhead first base basket and was focused on third base when Giants batter Kenny Lofton was sliding in for a triple. There was no play at home so I was not paying attention to the home plate area when Snow rescued Darren. Do I wish I had the picture? You bet- it would have made this blog post more complete!
Even though I missed that picture of Darren I did shoot many fun images of him during the 2002 season when he worked as a bat boy for the Giants. I am sure glad I did because after the 2002 season MLB created a new rule that required all bat boys to be at least 14 years old.
After Dusty left the Giants for the Cubs in 2003 Darren would usually show up in the dugout with his dad before games since the family still lived in the Bay Area. Over the years I have done my best to shoot him whenever I see him.
Last season marked the ten-year anniversary of J.T. saving Darren at home plate, so it was only fitting that the Giants had Darren throw out the first pitch (to J.T. of course) on the day the team honored the 2002 team before a game against the Reds. It was a funny sight to see Darren in the Reds dugout putting a Giants jersey on over his road grey Reds top before his big moment. You can see in the Instagram I shot of him above how excited he was.
Coming full circle, after all of these years it was a blast sitting on the Reds dugout steps yesterday before the game with my good friends Michael Zagaris and Jean Fruth talking to Dusty about everything from Cuba and jazz to Facebook and Twitter. As you might imagine, Dusty loves Cuba and jazz. Facebook and Twitter? Not so much.
Right before the game started the Baker Boys posed for the Z-Man. While Z shot them together with his real camera I shot a few quick frames with my iPhone 5. I missed the top of the 1st inning toning, captioning, and sending the best image of Darren and Dusty out on my Instagram feed (see top). After this I didn’t care what happened the rest of the game. I got my picture, and had the most fun I would all day. I look forward to the Reds coming back to the Bay Area to play the Giants in July. Photographing the Bakers never gets old!