The Houston Astros closed out the American League Championship series against the Boston Red Sox with a 5-0 victory. The win made the Astros the 2021 American League pennant champions. The Astros are now heading to the World Series for the third time in the past five years.
Dusty Baker, Astros team manager, has been determined to get the Astros to the World Series. This year means a little bit more as he is still grieving the loss of his close friend and mentor Hank Aaron who passed away earlier this year.
Aaron had a hand in the Atlanta Braves drafting Baker to the team and took him under his wing. The two were teammates for a time and friends long thereafter.
“I think it was harder for Dusty in the South than for me,” Aaron said in a 1993 interview with the St. Louis Dispatch. “I had grown up there. He was unaware.”
Aaron looked out for Baker on and off the field.
When speaking of Aaron’s influence, Baker said, “He was second only to my dad and my dad meant the world to me.”
53 years ago, on September 7, 1968, Baker made his Major League debut with the Atlanta Braves. The team that he faced was the Houston Astros. In what might be the purest of coincidences, Baker will now face his former team the Atlanta Braves as manager of the Houston Astros.
“He taught me a lot of life lessons, big time,” Baker explained while reflecting on Aaron. “I don’t know why he chose me, because I might not have been his favorite, but I was one of them. He really taught me discipline. This guy was the most disciplined, hard-working, highest-concentration guy I ever met.”
This is why Baker intends to win this matchup in honor of his friend.