HOUSTON — Just call him Mr. 2,000 — and counting.
Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker won his 2,000th game late Tuesday night, becoming the 12th skipper in Major League Baseball history to reach the milestone and the first Black man to do it.
The benchmark victory came in Houston's 4-0 win over the Seattle Mariners, more than 29 years after he collected his first MLB managerial win on April 6, 1993, in the San Francisco Giants's 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
"I'm probably one of the luckiest men to ever walk on this earth," a grinning Baker said minutes after the final out.
The 72-year-old California native said being the first Black manager to reach 2,000 wins makes the achievement even more meaningful.
"It means extra," he said. "It means extra to the culture. It means extra to society. It means extra to my race, and it means extra, hopefully, for others to get an opportunity (so) I'm not the last."
It's the latest milestone in a storied career as a player and manager that has spanned more than 50 years. Baker has reached the World Series twice as a manager — last season with the Astros, losing to the Atlanta Braves in six games, and in 2002 with the Giants, losing to the Anaheim Angels in seven games. As a player, he went three times with the Los Angeles Dodgers, winning it all as a big-hitting left fielder in 1981.
So where does this moment rank?
"Right now it's at the top," said Baker, who also played for the Atlanta Braves, Giants and Oakland Athletics. "But I ain't going to stop now."
Less than 24 hours after No. 2,000, Baker added another with Wednesday's 7-2 win to complete a series sweep of the Mariners.
Ten of the 11 other managers who have accumulated at least 2,000 wins are in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Bruce Bochy (2,003), who isn't yet eligible, is the only exception.
"This should lead straight to the Hall of Fame," Astros catcher Martín Maldonado said.
Baker's players presented him with a bottle of vintage Dom Pérignon champagne they signed with a gold marker to commemorate the achievement. The team toasted Baker with far more reasonably priced champagne in the clubhouse after Tuesday's game.
His wife, Melissa, and a group of about 10 friends were at the ballpark that night. Melissa smiled as she took a video her husband from the stands as the big screen displayed a picture of him with the words "2K Wins" in huge white letters.
Baker's career record is 2,001-1,745 (.534), and he's the only manager in MLB history to take five different franchises to the postseason.
He collected 840 wins in 10 years with the Giants (1993-2002), 322 in four seasons with the Chicago Cubs (2003-06), 509 in six years with the Cincinnati Reds (2008-13) and 192 in two seasons with the Washington Nationals (2016-17). Baker has 138 in his tenure in Houston, where he took over ahead of the 2020 season in the wake of the Astros' sign-stealing scandal.
"I'm just doing my job," Baker said. "I'm not that proud of myself yet."
He reached 500 wins while with the Giants in a 6-5 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on June 1, 1999. His 1,000th win came on Aug. 30, 2004, while managing the Cubs to a 5-2 victory over the Montreal Expos. Win No. 1,500 came on May 9, 2012, with the Reds in a 2-1 triumph over the Milwaukee Brewers.
"It's an honor to play for somebody who loves the game and loves his team and is so knowledgeable about the game of baseball and who has had such a storied career," Houston third baseman Alex Bregman said. "To be able to learn from him, play for him and just to be able to suit up with him every single day is very special, and nobody in here takes that for granted."
There was a time when Baker wondered if he'd even get a chance to chase this milestone. After being fired by the Nationals after a 97-win season in 2017, he didn't get another offer until the sign-stealing scandal cost A.J. Hinch his job as manager of the Astros.
"If there wasn't a scandal, I wouldn't be in this position," Baker said. "My phone wasn't ringing off the hook. Three different times I lost jobs and twice I was winning, and I didn't get a call for two years ... so, yeah, it's just a matter of perseverance. And I'm here and I'm ... where I'm supposed to be."
Astros pitcher Lance McCullers raved about Baker as a manager and a man and noted the difficult situation he walked into when he was hired in Houston.
"He helped us through a tough time as a clubhouse," McCullers said. "There in 2020 we were navigating through a lot of choppy water (and) everything going on post-COVID. He's earned our respect. It's a big milestone for him tonight. Probably one of the most exclusive clubs around."
Baker, who now needs 40 wins to move all the way up to No. 9 on the career list, was asked about cracking the top 10.
"I'll get there long as I live," he said. "That's my thing. As long as I live and as long as you just do your job — and my job is to win — then I'll get there."
Baker said the first thing he thought of after the final out was being there when Bochy, a good friend, reached 2,000 wins. And then a second thought immediately popped into his head.
"That's the first thing I thought about," he said. "And next thing I thought about is that I needed three more to (catch) Bruce."
Now it's down to two — with hopes for even more.
Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker is the 12th manager in MLB history to win 2,000 games, reaching the milestone Tuesday night and adding another victory Wednesday afternoon. Here are the 11 skippers in front of Baker, with win-loss totals updated entering Wednesday’s schedule:
1. Connie Mack — 3,731-3,948 (.486)
2. Tony La Russa — 2,831-2,447 (.536)
3. John McGraw — 2,763-1,948 (.586)
4. Bobby Cox — 2,504-2,001 (.556)
5. Joe Torre — 2,326-1.997 (.538)
6. Sparky Anderson — 2,194-1,834 (.545)
7. Bucky Harris — 2,158-2,219 (.493)
8. Joe McCarthy — 2,125-1,333 (.615)
9. Walter Alston — 2,040-1,613 (558)
10. Leo Durocher — 2,008-1,709 (.540)
11. Bruce Bochy — 2,003-2,029 (.497)
— Source: Baseball Reference