Golden Bear Baker
Written By: Lalo Mata
Published: May 28, 2020
Golden Bear Baker
Darren Baker and the Cal Bears were poised with a great year ahead after finishing in the mid rankings of the PAC 12 last season behind powerhouse teams like UCLA, Stanford, and Oregon State.
Darren Baker is no stranger to the high-level competition coming from a school such as Jesuit High with alumni like Rhys Hoskins, Daniel Susac, and more. Baker has built quite the resume coming from a household with a Sacramento baseball legend, Dusty Baker, the new head coach of the Houston Astros.
Baker was a name to follow growing up as he was a part of USA teams, Area Code teams, as well as being recognized by Perfect Game numerous times throughout his high school career.
At the collegiate level, Darren has grown to higher expectations with an impressive list of accomplishments by becoming a defensive threat up the middle by being named to the 2019 PAC-12 All-Defensive Team during his sophomore year. An impressive glove as well as swinging the stick with a .306 average during his sophomore year and a .342 summer in the Cape Cod League where he was an All-Star as well. The 2020 season of Darren’s junior year became a year of leadership for Baker by leading the team in hits, one error on the field, and a season left to make his mark and be a threat to not only a Berkeley lineup or a PAC-12 conference, but to all of NCAA to know Baker is the real deal.
What does it mean to you to have your season put on hold until next season? How does this impact your team?
“It was extremely tough for myself and my teammates to handle the premature ending of our season as it was for every program this spring. I feel as this year makes all of us appreciate playing for the university and all coaches throughout the program even more, never taking anything for granted because you never know when it could be over.”
Are there any major tips for becoming a D1 athlete?
“Not many “major tips” besides the usual cliche answers, but they are all so true. Things like hard work and perseverance do pay off most in the long run. I am proof of that I feel like, I was never the best player on travel teams or at showcases when I was younger, but dedication goes a long way.”
What kind of pressure does your dad have in becoming the new Astros Head Coach?
“A very tough situation to come into for sure, but if there’s anybody who’d be able to deal with these pressures and managing a team as high a caliber as the Stros are, it would be my Dad. I feel he’s the right man for the job at the right time, and I’m excited about what that is going to look like going forward.”
Dusty Baker has been a manager to great players before like Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer, and even relationships with studs like Barry Bonds. The Astros will get a new taste of instruction and what better way to battle against the odds than with a SacTown native? Dusty will have all of 916 behind him in his new journey.
Who has been the biggest motivator in your baseball career? Why?
“I’d have to say my Dad without a doubt. He’s the person who first introduced me to the game and gave me countless opportunities to be around it at the highest level at a young age. He instilled hard work and competitiveness in me on and off the field, and I’ll always be very grateful for him.”
What are some of the hardest obstacles in being recruited/drafted?
“I’d probably say this year has been challenging in terms of the lack of in-person meetings and workouts. Usually, around this time, it would be much easier to show teams in person how you have been working and improving your game; it makes it much more complicated through video, but it is necessary given the times we’re in currently.”
A total surprise to all programs across the nation, but Darren especially coming off of a great 2019 season and summer as well as his warmup to conference play.
Are there any MLB players coached by your dad that have taught you key life/career lessons? What are they?
“Many of my Dad’s former players and I have built a connection on and off the field that I cherish deeply. Players such as Joey Votto, Barry Bonds, and Max Scherzer have given me so much positive and helpful advice whether it comes from what to eat before games to how to take batting practice they have always done their best to help me when I’ve needed it.”
As a spring season passes and a summer season approaches we can expect to see both Dusty and Darren to make a big impact as a coach and as a player with new roles in the bigs and at the collegiate level. Both have become outstanding leaders and all of us in Sacramento are excited for Darren Baker’s return at Cal from a postponed season and Dusty’s impact to a Houston Stros team.