Dusty Baker

That was the day that Dusty Baker, who managed the Houston Astros to a World Series win tonight, received Positive Coaching Alliance’s Lifetime Achievement Award. I asked Dusty for a photo together, and Willie Gault, star receiver for the 1986 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears, came over from my left and said, “We gonna make an Oreo out of you.”

It was always a good time with Dusty. Just a few minutes earlier that day, Dusty and I talked about his tour of Apple Computer headquarters at One Infinite Loop, which he called an architectural marvel. As a Cubs fan, I told him he’d already seen the most marvelous architectural wonder in the world. He thought about it for a few seconds and asked, “Which one is that?”

“Wrigley Field,” I responded, and in less than a few seconds, he said, “Aww, man, that place is a dump!”

At a different Positive Coaching Alliance event, where we first met, he was coming off surgery and hobbled through the lunch line on his cane, a beautiful knotted dark hardwood adorned with feathers and other talismans that lent him a mystical air. In a private room at the Stanford Faculty Club, he told tales of his time in the minor leagues in the South of the late ’60s, post-Jim Crow by letter of the law, but not its spirit.

Somehow, in that room of 20 or so souls, with conversation gravitating to counter-cultural sports icons, Dusty mentioned the legendary football player, Joe Don Looney and asked if anyone knew his story.

“He was an outstanding bar fighter,” I answered. “Yes,” Dusty confirmed, “One of the best.”

“I think he also decked Bud Wilkinson at Oklahoma,” I added.

“One of his assistants,” Dusty corrected.

It all went to building rapport that stretched over a few video shoots we did together for Positive Coaching Alliance. Here is my favorite clip, mixing the fun and seriousness Dusty brought to his work, which finally resulted in tonight’s World Series win.

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