Return to Atlanta for World Series is 'storybook ending' for Astros' Dusty Baker

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As the World Series shifts from Houston to Atlanta this weekend, it's a homecoming of sorts for Astros manager Dusty Baker.

The Astros manager will forever be tied to the Braves, the city and one of baseball's best players.

Baker, who started his Major League Baseball career with the Atlanta Braves, was in the on-deck circle on April 8, 1974, when Hank Aaron hit his record-breaking 715th home run. The iconic moment is immortalized at the site of the former Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta - depicting the exact spot Aaron's home run cleared the fence.

However, the connection between Baker and Aaron is much closer than just hitting back-to-back in the Atlanta lineup.

"He really taught me discipline," Baker said of Aaron. "This guy is the most-disciplined guy. He taught me some of the same lessons as my dad taught me."

Baker compares the knowledge gained from the Hall-of-Famer, his teammate and dear friend, to what he learned from his own father. It's a proper parallel, as Aaron once assured Baker's mother he would serve as a parental figure to his young Atlanta teammate.

"He promised my mom that he would take care of me as if I was his son," Baker recalled. "He did. Ralph Garr, Hank Aaron and I were together all the time. I was over at [Aaron's] house, and I was closer in age to his kids than I was to him."

Baker, a man of strong faith, believes God had a hand in bringing him to Atlanta to begin his baseball career to play for the Braves and to connect with Aaron. Decades later, Dusty is back in Atlanta trying to win his first World Series as a manager.

He's trying to do it while Aaron's home run wall at the former Fulton County Stadium is now a makeshift memorial following his death in January.

"It is special because that's where I started," Baker said of returning to Atlanta. "And with this being the year of Aaron's passing, to go back to Atlanta and talk to his wife and his kids - it's going to be a storybook ending for all of us."

In this chapter, Baker will have an even better vantage point than the on-deck circle.

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