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Thursday, November 9
Baker captures third NL Manager of the Year award

NEW YORK (Ticker) -- While he was unable to get the San Francisco Giants to the World Series, Dusty Baker did little to damage his reputation as one of the best managers in the game during the 2000 season.

The popular Baker today was named National League Manager of the Year for the third time by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Baker, 51, earned a landslide victory over Tony La Russa of the St. Louis Cardinals after leading the surprising Giants to the best record in the major leagues (97-65).

In balloting conducted by 32 members of the BBWAA -- two from each NL city -- Baker received 30 first-place votes and was the only man named on all 32 ballots. He also collected one second-place and one third-place vote for 154 points.

Baker tied La Russa's record for most Manager of the Year awards, previously winning the honor with the Giants in 1993 and 1997. All of La Russa's awards came while he was in the American League, with Chicago (1983) and Oakland (1988, 1992).

"This year was different the way our young pitchers came around the second half of the year," Baker said. "That was huge. That gives us an opportunistic look next year on how we finished this year."

Tommy Lasorda, Sparky Anderson, Jim Leyland and Joe Torre are the only other major league managers to win the award twice. La Russa, whose Cardinals lost to the New York Mets in five games in the National League Championship Series, garnered one first-place vote, along with 16 seconds and six thirds for 59 points.

The other first-place vote went to Atlanta's Bobby Cox, who finished third with 41 points. New York's Bobby Valentine (16) edged Florida's John Boles (15) for fourth.

Other managers receiving consideration were Colorado's Buddy Bell (2) and Montreal's Felipe Alou (1).

Baker always seems to get the most out of his players and the 2000 season was no different.

With an unheralded pitching staff and offense built around Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent, the Giants were not considered a strong force in the NL. But they won the West Division by 11 games before losing to the Mets in four games in the Division Series.

In 1999, San Francisco went 86-76 and finished 14 games behind Arizona in the West. A player's manager and cheerleader who often is seen on the top step of the dugout pumping his fists and exciting the home crowd during games, Baker was given a two-year contract extension last month.

Baker is the winningest manager in San Francisco Giants' history, posting a 655-577 record in his eight seasons. Earlier this year, he surpassed Roger Craig's previous team mark of 586 victories.

Baker, who has won two division titles with the Giants, is third in franchise history in games managed and wins, trailing only the legendary John McGraw and Bill Terry. The Manager of the Year awards were swept by Sacramento natives. Jerry Manuel of the Chicago White Sox earned the AL honor on Wednesday. It also marks the first time two Afro-Americans won in the same season.

"I'm loving the fact that a couple guys from Sac won it and a couple minorities won it, and just a couple years ago it was looked upon that we were not capable of doing this job," Baker said.

La Russa led the revamped Cardinals to a 20-game turnaround and was looking become the first manager to win the award in both leagues. He won with the Chicago White Sox in 1983 and Oakland Athletics in 1988 and 1992.

La Russa capitalized on general manager Walt Jocketty's offseason moves as the Cards won the Central by 10 games. It was his seventh career divisional title and second in five years with St. Louis.

With a veteran pitching staff and career year from center fielder Jim Edmonds, the Cardinals overcame the midseason loss of slugger Mark McGwire and cruised to the division title.

Jocketty was named Executive of the Year by Baseball America magazine on Wednesday.

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