- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Dusty Baker’s storytelling ability is immense. Wednesday, the Washington Nationals manager was asked a simple question: “What was your reaction to being traded to the Dodgers?” His answer, more than 40 years after the transaction, is as follows:

“What was my reaction? Man, that’s what I wanted. Cause I didn’t like losing. They had traded Hank Aaron, that winter of ‘75. I didn’t know the business end of baseball at that time. They traded all of us at the same time, and then sold the club to Ted Turner. [The Braves] traded Ralph Garr to the White Sox, traded me to the Dodgers, traded Darrell Evans and Marty Perez to the Giants. My reaction was, I went in and I asked Mr. [Eddie] Robinson. I wanted to be traded back to California because I was tired of being in the South at that time, and I was tired of losing. And his reaction to me was: Had I ever been to Cleveland? So I called Hank, and I asked Hank: ‘How come every time I ask them to trade me, they ask me have I ever been to Cleveland?’ Cause Cleveland wasn’t Cleveland as you see it today. Cleveland’s a good town. But back then they played in old Browns stadium. That was like where you sent the bad actors.

“So I went in and I told them: I’m getting out of here. And I packed up my, I had a 914 Porsche. I had sold Fords. I sold my Thunderbird to my mother-in-law. And then I packed up my Porsche, built a little rack on the back, and like Route 66: Across America, going to California.

“They didn’t have cell phones, so I stopped in Carlsbad Caverns. I stopped at the Grand Canyon. To see things I hadn’t seen. And that night I was going to bed. I always wanted to be a Dodger, because I heard the Dodgers had the best athletes, the pretty uniforms, the good bodies. And I was like, ‘Shoot, you’re talking about me.’ That’s the way I thought. I’m serious. You asked me what I thought.

“So then I’m watching the news, and they showed like four players: Jimmy Wynn and (Tom) Paciorek and (Lee) Lacy and Jerry Royster. And I was like: ‘Dang, who’s this bad dude they just traded for?’ And then I saw my picture come up, myself and Ed Goodson. And I called my dad. He said: ‘We’ve been looking for you for two days. You’ve been traded to the Dodgers.’ Eddie Robinson did me a favor, traded me to where I wanted to go. And I think Tom Paciorek had worn No. 12, one of the guys I was traded for. So they had No. 12 waiting for me when I got there.”

“…My first year there, I had a bad knee. I hit a home run my first at-bat, and I didn’t hit another one til July 4. That’s when I quit reading the newspaper and watching the news and stuff. Because I was like, man, I’m being crucified. So why should somebody else control my self-esteem? So I quit reading it.

“Then after that, I hit 30 home runs, people forgot all about it. And I was on all the All-Dodger Team. And probably the thing I’m most proud of, I was on the All-Dodger Team as a player and the All-Giant Team as a manager. I don’t think there’s been another one that’s done both. I mean, Bruce Bochy soon will take over for me, for sure, if he hasn’t done it already. But that’s part of my history there.”

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