Baker Wearing Red, Thinking Title

The Associated Press
Monday, October 15, 2007; 4:32 PM

CINCINNATI -- Dusty Baker had a whole new look.

The 58-year-old manager put on a bright red Cincinnati cap and a red-and-white jersey Monday during his introduction as the next Reds manager. The color just didn't fit.

"This is my first red uniform in my whole life," Baker said.

As an outfielder, he won a World Series ring while wearing Dodger blue in 1981. As a manager, he has won 1,162 games in San Francisco's orange and black and Cubs blue.

He led the Giants to the 2002 World Series and got the Cubs within five outs of the 2003 Series, two near-misses that still gnaw at him. After one year of working in television, he's back in baseball and back on his quest.

"I'm inspired," said Baker, the first black manager in the history of baseball's first professional team. "I feel that I was brought here for a number of reasons, not just to manage a baseball team.

"Hopefully we can all come together for the same goal of winning, and we can have that championship ticker-tape parade, which is what I really, really need. I need that badly. You just don't know how bad I do need that."

A winning season would be reason for a parade around here.

The Reds haven't won a World Series since 1990, when Lou Piniella was hired and led them to their sweep of Oakland. They've been to the playoffs only one time since then, losing to Atlanta in the 1995 NL championship series.

The city went zany when Ken Griffey Jr. returned to his hometown before the 2000 season, but it was little more than an overnight sensation. The Reds are coming off their seventh straight losing season, their longest such stretch since 1945-55.

They've been through two owners and three general managers since 2003. Baker is their fifth manager over that span, following Bob Boone, Dave Miley, Jerry Narron and Pete Mackanin, who took over on an interim basis last July.

About that time, general manager Wayne Krivsky first approached Baker, who was fired by the Cubs after their last-place finish in 2006. Baker spent this year away from the game, using the break to work as an ESPN analyst and spend time with his family.

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