Dusty Baker may have recently arrived to the D.C. area, but he and his family are already finding ways to give back to their new community.
Baker told CSN Mid-Atlantic that his son, Darren, will be doing an internship this summer at the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy in the District's Ward 7. The volunteer work will fulfill a community service requirement for his high school curriculum.
Baseball fans might remember the younger Baker, who as a 3-year-old bat boy for the San Francisco Giants in the 2002 World Series was famously saved from a potential home-plate collision by first baseman J.T. Snow.
Now 17, Darren Baker is a star infielder at Jesuit High School in Carmichael, California. He will come to D.C. to work as an assistant coach for the academy, a nonprofit organization using baseball and softball as a hook to serve underprivileged youth in Ward 7 and Ward 8.
"He plays baseball. He loves baseball," the elder Baker said. "We try to raise him to share and to be cognizant of others that don’t have as much as he has, because he’s quite blessed. So [his work at the academy] is adding to his character.”
The Nats' skipper expounded on that point, saying that in previous managerial stints, he would have Darren accompany him to different parts of those cities so he could get his son out of his comfort zone.
"I always took him to the West Side of Chicago, South Side of Chicago [when I was with the Cubs]," he said. "I take him everywhere so he’ll know how to act and know how to be and not be afraid....I don’t want him intimidated by anybody or any area or anything. So you learn how to adjust and you learn how to fit in where you get in."
Though the academy has its own staff that works with the children on a day-to-day basis, Nats players and coaches have been known to occasionally make appearances as guest coaches since the facility's opening in March of 2014. Baker himself had a chance to visit the academy last December, something the Nats hope becomes more routine as his tenure in D.C. progresses.
"I think it’s one of the best academies I’ve seen," he said. "They put their heart and soul into [it], and they put their money where their mouth is. Because it’s not cheap to run the academy.
"The one thing I was impressed with is the people learning and the volunteer people that were there that didn’t have to be there."
Darren will help out with the academy's summer program, which typically serves close to 200 kids for six consecutive weeks. Like the afternoon program during the school year, its aim is to improve positive character development, academic achievement and improved health through on-field drills and classroom instruction.