WASHINGTON — What is it with Dusty Baker and names?
Everybody got a little kick out of it when the Nationals manager first came to town and took to calling then-reigning MVP Bryce Harper by a slightly different pseudonym: Royce. Baker later explained that his faux pas was due to him not being “good at first names,” due to his time in baseball, where players’ last names are on the jerseys, and his time in the Marines, where soldiers were called by their last names.
Harper later got his skipper back by referring to him as “Rusty” in a press conference that spring, because why not?
Now, thanks to the Negro Leagues Museum, we’ve got a gem of a story that perhaps sheds some insight as to why Baker thinks so little of first names.
Satchel Paige calling Dusty Baker “Daffy” is somehow not surprising at all, but it is nonetheless a terrific little nugget.
It’s too bad there are so many traditional first names on the current Nats roster — Daniel Murphy, Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, Adam Eaton, Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth (unusual spelling, but pronunciation is all that matters in this case), Anthony Rendon — otherwise we might have some more of these gems sneaking through.
But hey, new catcher Derek Norris might very well morph into Erik, or something even further off, like Jerry. And there’s certainly a chance Baker is calling Trea Turner something like Shea or Jay.
One can only hope, right?