Eddie Matz, ESPN Senior Writer  

WASHINGTON -- If you subscribe to the philosophy that the personality of a baseball team reflects the personality of its manager, then the Washington Nationals will be a completely different team under Dusty Baker than they were under Matt Williams. That’s because Baker is the complete opposite of Williams. 

For starters, he has a pulse. 


Dusty Baker happily shows off his new Nationals jersey, as general manager Mike Rizzo looks on. Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports

We know this because Baker is a human being. And we know that because he made it abundantly clear during his introductory news conference at Nationals Park on Thursday. 

In the same interview room where the closed-off Williams repeatedly sat stone-faced night after night, crushing loss after crushing loss, and spewed robotic clich├ęs about having a game to win tomorrow -- the same space where barely more than a month ago, the former Nationals manager sat down following his team’s elimination and with a straight face said, “It was a good night for everyone” -- Baker was more open than John Wall coming off a double screen from Marcin Gortat and Kris Humphries

He talked about love, family and being a black man. He talked about being a product of divorce and growing up without grandparents. He referred to himself as “International Bakey” and admitted that he sometimes takes managerial advice from his 16-year-old son. He joked, smiled and laughed his way through the interview, revealing his human side more times in 35 minutes than Williams did during the entire 2015 season. 

A breath of fresh air? Baker was more like a walking, talking thousand-gallon hyperbaric chamber filled with oxygen imported straight from the Rocky Mountains. 

When he slipped into a crisp white Nationals jersey for a photo opportunity (he’ll wear the same No. 12 that he wore throughout his entire 19-year playing career), Baker mugged for the cameras, turning and sashaying as if he were on a Paris runway. “My mom used to model,” he quipped, an army of photographers capturing each and every pose while a room jam-packed with reporters busted out in laughter. 

( Click here to read the full story at ESPN

{Editor's Note: Washington's gain may be Sacramento's loss. Notably that of the La Salle Clubwhich had planned to induct Baker at its upcoming Baseball Hall of Fame banquet February 13. Since pitchers and catchers report February 18, Baker likely will have headed to spring training camp in Florida and forced to miss induction into "Sacramento's Baseball Hall of Fame" as chairman Joe McNamara likes to call it.}


Sacramento Remembers Baseball Legend,
Longtime Scout Ron King

It is with great sadness that we learned yesterday of the death of Ron King, a native Sacramentan and long-time baseball man,who passed at age 87. 

Toni, his daughter, said her father died in his sleep, just as her mother Betty did last year.

King began his career in the Sacramento recreational leagues, joining a team in the competitive National Division of the Winter League at age 14 as a catcher, his prime position. King was the backstop for Christian Brothers High, which posted a 16-0 record his junior season. “And that wasn’t even our best team,” he told this reporter in one of our many conversations.

In 1947, Cleveland signed him out of high school and he played four seasons in the Indians organization, rising to “A” ball in 1953. The following year he caught for the hometown Sacramento Solons, and compiled a .231 aggregate batting average during his eight years in professional ball.

Later, he scouted for Pittsburgh and Los Angeles, becoming a cross-checker for both organizations.

For a complete biography of King’s career, go here to our Spotlight section for the feature we wrote on Mr. King. 


King (right) with Indians coach Dolph Camilli.
(courtesy of the Ron King Collection)

Friends and associates remember King with great fondness.

Harry Dunlop, a few years younger and also a catcher, played against King in the Winter League in the 1950s and as a member of the La Salle Club Baseball Hall of Fame and “Over the Hill Gang,” associated with King for all of their adult lives.

“He was always a good friend,” Dunlop remembers. “A lot of good times talking with Ronnie about baseball.”

Dunlop, who spent 50 years in professional baseball, first as a player, then later as a minor league manager and major league coach, recalled that every spring Dodgers catcher Steve Scioscia credited King with showing him the finer points of the backstop position during the Dodgers’ Instructional League training before he made the majors. Scioscia just completed his 16th season managing the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

“Butch” Metzger, the fireballer from Kennedy High, recalls that King was one of the first scouts to hand him a card “ showing an interest in me as a junior in high school. I thought that was the coolest thing on the planet,” Metzger says today.

Cleveland Indians scout Don Lyle felt a great bond with King, who was one of the few scouts to "...come down into the 'neighborhood' to watch us play," Lyle recalled of his time at Sacramento High (he graduated in 1972). After Lyle's playing career with the Cincinnati Reds had ended, King provided the young scout with sage advice about the profession.

Lyle loves to tell how when all the scouts congregated behind the backstop and trained their radar guns on a pitching prospect or watched a young hitter intently, King often turned his back to the game to continue a conversation. And after a stunning play on the field, someone would tease the dean of the fraternity, saying "'You missed that one, Ronnie.' Sure enough, he'd tell 'em what had just happened on the field--he was watching. Ronnie never missed a thing out there," Lyle remembered fondly.

Cuno Barragan, another professional catcher to come out of Sacramento in the 1940s and ‘50s, was a lifelong friend of King's. When asked for his favorite memory, Barragan clearly remembers a Winter League at William Land Park in the early 1950s when he was just a JC prospect at Sacramento City. Cuno attempted to throw out a runner stealing second base and the ball sailed into center field. After the inning was over, King—who was standing behind the backstop—called Barragan over from the drinking fountain.

King asked Cuno how he gripped the ball when he threw down to second base. “I just grab it and throw it,” he said.

King suggested he adopt the simple driill every day in practice of finding the ball in his glove, placing his two fingers across the seams before throwing it, to provide better control. “Keep practicing this, and it’ll become automatic,” King advised him.

Heeding the older catcher’s advice, Barragan “never had a ball sail on me like that again,” he said. Barragan played three seasons for the Chicago Cubs (1961-63), and like King caught for the Solons in 1957, 1959 and 1960.

Just last Thursday, Cuno called up his old friend to inquire how he was feeling. Barragan thanked King for his lifelong friendship and concluded the conversation by telling King, “I love you, Ronnie!”

Lots of people throughout this area loved and respected Ron King, who will go down as one of the greatest baseball men this town has ever known.

RIP – Ron King.

Note: A rosary will be held for Ron King on Sunday 6 p.m. at Klump's Funeral Home, and the Mass of Christian burial follows on Monday 11 a.m. at Our Lady of Assumption.




High School



For decades, Sacramento has been a hotbed of tremendous baseball talent. A few of the homegrown locals performing in the Major Leagues at present from the greater Sacramento area* include J.P. Howell, Dustin Pedroia, Manny Parra, Andrew Susac, and many more.

Among the hundreds of former professional players who have hailed from around here (and this is not an exhaustive list) include: Dusty Baker, Larry Bowa, Ken and Bob Forsch, Stan Hack, Woody Held, David Hernandez, Derrek Lee, Joe Marty, Butch Metzger, Steve Sax, Greg Vaughn, Fernando Vina and many others.

Numerous MLB managers have come out of Sacramento, including:
Dusty Baker (SF Giants, Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds) Larry Bowa (San Diego Padres and Philadelphia Phillies) Jerry Manuel (Chicago White Sox and New York Mets) Buck Martinez (Toronto Blue Jays) John McNamara (6 teams).

Many top-name big league players barnstormed through Sacramento from the teens through the early '60s. Among the barnstormers, none were bigger than Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, who performed as the Bustin' Babes and Larrupin Lous here in Sacramento in 1927 (you can read more about that tour at ThePitchBook.com).

After runnin' the bases here, if you would like to submit material that you believe should be included at BaseballSacramento.com, please send an email to
RAC (at) baseballsacramento (dot) com.

Also be sure to check out the All-Time Top 50 Players from Sacramento in the History section.


Rick Cabral

* The "greater Sacramento baseball area" extends west to Woodland, north to Yuba City, east to Grass Valley and south to the San Joaquin County line.

Updated 11/6/15
All contents © Rick Cabral, 2010-2015



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