Most people consider the 1903 World Series to be the first such event in major league baseball history. They have been playing postseason baseball ever since, more than a century now, yet two African American managers have never faced off until now. The Nationals’ Dusty Baker and the Dodgers’ Dave Roberts will become the first African Americans to do so when they exchange lineup cards around 5:30 p.m.. Friday night.
“Hopefully it motivates other organizations to get some African American managers, also to motivate other players that are playing now, and former players that have managerial aspiration,” Baker said. “It probably brings a lot of pride across America and not only African American people, but everybody.”
Roberts is in his first season as a manager; Baker is in his 21st. Roberts is 44 years old, which is exactly how old Baker was when he began his managerial career with the Giants in 1993. They are the only two African Americans currently managing in the league.
“It’s important, and it doesn’t go unnoticed or underappreciated,” Roberts said. “I think speaking for Dusty, myself, what it means to the game of baseball, to society. You know, but I think when it comes down to it, right now, he and I, we’re just focused on winning a series.”
Baker has mentioned the need for more African American managers before and has wondered aloud why more qualified African American candidates have not received opportunities.
Thursday, he told a more lighthearted anecdote regarding race in baseball, about Tommy Lasorda claiming Italians were taking over baseball — then claiming all of baseball’s biggest managerial names as Italians. But Baker also acknowledged the importance of this weekend’s series, which will be unlike any before it.
“I mean, significance is, you know, it gives us some pride in being African American.” Baker said. “to show people that, you know, not only can we do the job, but we can do the job better than most.”