VIERA, FL. — When it comes to endearing yourself to a new fanbase, Dusty Baker knows what he's doing.
The 66-year-old skipper revealed early this spring training he gave Redskins' legendary coach Joe Gibbs a call ahead of the 2016 season. He reached out to him for advice and by revealing that exchange likely won a lot of Washingtonians over.
When it comes to popular D.C. sports figures, it's essentially Joe Gibbs and then everyone else. No one has quite the approval rating around town like Gibbs. Everyone loves Joe.
Baker explained the conversation he had with Gibbs and how it came about to CSN this week.
"I had heard that he's a heck of a man. I put in a call to him, to his racing team because I had been out a couple years. I was out of baseball and now back in baseball. I asked him how I maintain my business interests and still not cheat the job where I am. He gave me some sound advice that you gotta delegate authority and turn it over to somebody that you trust because this is where your main focus has to be. I didn't know him and I didn't know he had been out of football for like 11 years when he came back. That was pretty awesome. We had a great conversation. And then at the end of the conversation, he goes 'let me pray for you and with you.' For a man that I had never met before to pray with you and for you, that meant a lot to me."
Ryan Zimmerman grew up in Virginia and has been known to root for the Redskins. He even got in on the 'You Like That' craze with a video that surfaced on the internet in December.
He appreciates Baker's creativity in reaching out to a coaching legend from another sport.
"One thing that I've noticed about Dusty - obviously he's kind of seen everything and done everything - but he is not afraid to reach out and ask for advice and ask for help. He seems to be like a sponge. He wants to learn as much as he can. Obviously, as a manager that's a great thing, but I think just as a person. Whenever you're going into something, he's humble enough to use as many resources as possible. He doesn't think he's better than anyone else and he'll take advice from anyone. I like to see that," Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman actually attended several Redskins games during the 2015 season. The Nationals first baseman got passes to stand on the sidelines.
"I've been trying to do that for a few years, to actually watch a game down there. I just like to see how other sports do things, to see how they communicate. I watched the offensive line come in and talk to each other about why things went well and why things went bad. Obviously, just to see the speed and the gruesome collisions and everything that is the NFL down on field level was an awesome experience," he said.