Davey Martinez may have been the one to replace Dusty Baker as the Nationals’ manager in 2017, but the elder skipper was one of many former mentors who helped shape Martinez’s managerial style.
Baker coached the San Francisco Giants from 1993 to 2002, including the two seasons in which Martinez played for the team during his 16-year playing career. Martinez talked to The Athletic for a story published Sunday about the impact Baker left on him while he played in San Francisco.
“I learned a lot from Dusty, playing and listening to him,” Martinez said. “And now being a manager, I kind of learned, this is how I want to be, too. This is how I want to treat players.”
Martinez described Baker as a manager who “got it.” Nationals outfielder Michael A. Taylor agreed, describing the range of special guests Baker would bring in by saying, “One day it would be the leader of a [Native American] tribe and the next day it would be Joe Namath.”
Baker is now the manager of the Houston Astros, who trail the Tampa Bay Rays 1-0 in the ALCS after losing the series opener 2-1 on Sunday night. He’s hoping to reach a goal that has escaped him throughout his 23 years of managing: winning a World Series.
That goal is one that Martinez achieved just last year, leading the Nationals to their first championship in franchise history three years after Baker’s contract expired. He received a contract extension this season for his ability to connect with players and maintain a tight-knit clubhouse environment — in addition to pulling all the right strings in the playoffs despite having just two reliable bullpen arms.
Martinez’s leadership style is one often compared to that of his former boss, Joe Maddon, under whom he worked as bench coach for both the Rays and Chicago Cubs.
However, Martinez points out that at least some of the credit belongs to Baker, who has proven capable of bringing any clubhouse together after leading the much-maligned Astros back to the ALCS despite a scandal hanging over their heads.