Dusty Baker's life as a renaissance man has helped guide this World Series run

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Dusty Baker is best known as a lifelong baseball man, but his interests extend well beyond the diamond.

"He's a smart person, and he's a very curious man," said longtime baseball writer Richard Justice. "He has a mind that's open to so many different things."

You can start with Baker's business interests. He owns Baker Family Wines, a winery where Baker can be found pruning the grapes himself.

He also started Baker Energy Team, which is a solar energy company in his native northern California.

One man who has witnessed the many sides of Baker is Ralph Garr. The two have been close friends since being drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 1967.

"I don't know how to explain (our friendship)," said Garr, who lives in Houston and still works as a Braves scout. "You can't say nothing is past love, but it is as far as Dusty Baker and I are concerned."

One of the things that stick out to Garr is Baker's love of music. He vividly recalls a young Baker turning him on to some of the biggest acts of the day.

"He was talking about Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix," said Garr. "He's always been interested in music.

Baker wrote a book entitled "Kiss The Sky" in 2015. It chronicles his love of music, focusing on his trip to the Monterey Pop Festival where he saw Hendrix in 1967.

That wasn't the last experience Baker would have with the guitar hero.

"If you talk to Dusty Baker, he might tell you the story of the time he was walking the streets of San Francisco and smoked a joint with Jimi Hendrix," said Justice.

Baker's story is also one of survival. He played baseball in the South around the Civil Rights era, survived a mini-stroke, and has defeated prostate cancer.

"He's resilient," said Garr's wife, Ruby. "I'm just so proud of the relationship (we have with him)."

So how do all of these interests, experiences and triumphs make Baker a perfect fit to manage the Houston Astros - a team dealing with the turmoil of a sign-stealing scandal when he was hired in January 2020?

"I just think all of that cumulative information has made him a fountain of respect," said Justice. "The players have come to love the guy."

Astros catcher Jason Castro echoed those thoughts.

"He's easy-going, and that goes well with this group of guys," Castro said. "We just have a loose, fun group, and he mimics that same kind of energy in the clubhouse."
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