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Will Baker Answer Cubs’ Prayers or Just Blow in the Windy?
November 20, 2002

If you listen to Cubs’ fans, Dusty Baker is the man who will lead the team back to the hallowed grounds of the World Series. Why not? He just led the Giants there last year!

Alas, the Cubs are one of those teams with a long history. A long, hard luck history! To wit: the last time they won the World Series was ten years before they lost to the Red Sox the last time they won the World Series!

Hope is a Cubs’ fan’s best friend. It’s about all there is when you root for the team whose last championship manager died almost eighty years ago. Still, they are among the most loyal fans in any sport, and this year they’re placing their hope in Dusty Baker.

Baker is the third former Giants manager to take the helm of what appears to be baseball’s rudderless ship. The first was Rogers Hornsby. He led the Giants to a strong second place finish in a season started with John McGraw. The Cubs finished third in his only full year managing them. Hornsby will always be recognized as a better player than manager. That’s not to say he wasn’t a decent manager, but he was a great player.

Just the opposite was the second former Giants manager to take over. Leo Durocher earned the nicknames ’Lippy’ and ’the Lip’ for his fiery demeanor as a manager. He had led the Giants to two World Series appearances, winning one of them, in his six plus years in New York. The Cubs had hope in 1966! They lost 103 games.

They never finished worst than third over the next five years that Durocher managed. They never finished better than second. Durocher’s Cubs is the answer to the trivia question ’what team blew a large, late-season lead to the miracle Mets in 1969?’

Now there’s Dusty Baker. He comes to them off his most successful season as a manager. He had to be doing something right - right? I mean, it takes managerial talent to pencil Bonds in at clean up, doesn’t it? Well, at least as much as it did to start Mel Ott and Willie Mays, like Durocher did!

My purpose isn’t to knock Dusty Baker, or to dash the hopes of Cubs’ fans before May. The Cubs have some good players for Baker to work with. However, having the most feared hitter in the game wasn’t enough for him to get the Giants past the energetic Angels last year.

Hope - a Cubs’ fan’s best friend. Here’s to hoping Sosa has a record setting year because Baker pencils him in at clean up! It was almost enough when Bonds did it for him!

Quick Facts:

The Giants last won the World Series in 1954. That was nine years after the Cubs’ last appearance.

Here are the Cubs managers in 1961: Vedie Himsl (11 games), Harry Craft (12 games), El Tappe (2 games), Lou Klein (11 games), Vedie Himsl (17 games), Harry Craft (4 games), El Tappe (78 games), Vedie Himsl (3 games), and El Tappe (16 games).

Frank Chance was the manager of the Cubs from 1905 to 1912. They went to the World Series four times, and won two of them, during that time. They won over 100 games four times, also.

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