Del Baker

Delmer David Baker (May 3, 1892 – September 11, 1973) was an American professional baseball player, coach, and manager. He played as a catcher in Major League Baseball (MLB). As a manager, he led the 1940 Detroit Tigers to the American League pennant. Baker was known as one of the premier sign stealers of his era.[1]

Del Baker
Del Baker 1918.jpeg
Baker in 1918 as a member of the United States Navy during World War I
Born: May 3, 1892
Sherwood, Oregon
Died: September 11, 1973 (aged 81)
Olmos Park, Texas
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 16, 1914, for the Detroit Tigers
Last MLB appearance
September 30, 1916, for the Detroit Tigers
MLB statistics
Batting average.209
Home runs0
Runs batted in22
Career highlights and awards
  • Manager of 1940 American League champion Tigers

Player and minor league manager

Baker was born in Sherwood, Oregon, and raised in neighboring Wilsonville. After graduating from a Portland business college, he took a job in 1909 as a bookkeeper in Wasco, Oregon, where he caught for the town team. In 1911, a scout signed him to a contract with the Spokane Indians of the Class A (equivalent to today's Triple A) Pacific National League, predecessor to the Pacific Coast League (PCL).[2] In 1914 he was promoted to the Detroit Tigers, and played in 172 games over three seasons as a back-up for Oscar Stanage, batting .209. In 1917, the Tigers farmed him out to the PCL's San Francisco Seals. In 1918 he joined the war effort, serving in the US Navy, then returned to the PCL in 1920, this time with the Portland Beavers. After three seasons there, Baker spent a season with the Mobile Bears of the Class A Southern Association, then returned to the PCL for three more seasons with the Oakland Oaks.[3]

After spending most of the 1928 season as player-manager of the Ogden Gunners in the Class C Utah-Idaho League, Baker moved to the Class A Texas League and caught for the Fort Worth Panthers in 1929. In 1930 he was appointed player-manager of the Beaumont Exporters, a premier Texas League team with some of Detroit's top prospects, including Schoolboy Rowe, Pete Fox, and Hank Greenberg. The Exporters won 100 games in 1932, then swept the Dallas Steers for the Texas League championship.[3] When Detroit manager Bucky Harris promoted Rowe, Fox, and Greenberg to the major league level in 1933, he hired Baker to coach third base for the Tigers.

Tigers coach and manager

Baker served as interim manager after Harris was fired toward the end of the 1933 season, then returned to coaching third base under Harris' replacement, player-manager Mickey Cochrane. The Tigers won back-to-back AL pennants in 1934 and '35, and their first ever World Series title in 1935. Baker managed the team again in mid-1936, when Cochrane took a leave of absence due to what was described as a "nervous breakdown"; and again in mid-1937 after Cochrane suffered a fractured skull when he was hit by a pitch.[4]

In 1938, the Tigers compiled an early-season record of 47-51; on August 7, Baker replaced Cochrane as manager. He rallied Detroit to 37 wins in 56 games, enough to finish in the first division, but Detroit slipped to fifth in 1939.[3]

1940 AL pennant

Hank Greenberg and Del Baker 1941
Baker meets with Hank Greenberg in 1941 before Greenberg departs for World War II.

In 1940, the New York Yankees, who had won the AL pennant and the World Series four years running, faltered, leaving the Tigers and the Cleveland Indians to contend for the league title. On the final day of the season, with the two teams tied, Baker chose obscure rookie pitcher Floyd Giebell to pitch for the pennant against future Hall of Famer Bob Feller. The Tigers won the game and the pennant, 2–0; but in the World Series, they lost in seven games to the Cincinnati Reds, despite Bobo Newsom's heroic pitching performances.[5]

With World War II on the horizon, the 1941 season was marked by the call to active military service of numerous baseball stars, including Greenberg. With their star power hitter out of the lineup, and Newsom ineffective, Detroit fell below .500 that season, and again in 1942. Baker was replaced after the 1942 season by Steve O'Neill.[6]

Later career

Baker returned to the coaching ranks with Cleveland (1943–44) and the Boston Red Sox (1945–48; 1953–60). From 1949–51, he served as skipper of the Sacramento Solons and the San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League. In his final season, 1960, Baker managed one last time in the big leagues as Boston's interim pilot from June 8–12 between Billy Jurges' firing and Pinky Higgins' rehiring. Under Baker, the last-place Red Sox won two games and lost five. He retired from the game after his 50th season in baseball, his last day overshadowed by Ted Williams' last game as a player. Baker died at age 81 in Olmos Park, Texas.[1]

Sign stealing

As a coach and manager, Baker was known for his proficiency at detecting the type of pitch an opposing pitcher was about to deliver and tipping off his team's batter with verbal signals. He carefully observed each pitcher's idiosyncrasies, looking, he said, "for all the little quirks, details and tell‐tales." He found that many pitchers concealed the ball poorly before delivery, allowing him to see their grip. Others telegraphed their curve balls by bending their wrists, or subtly altering their wind‐ups. "There are also facial telltales. I know pitchers who, when they throw a curve, bite the lip or stick out the tongue," he said.[1]

Tigers shortstop Dick Bartell wrote that the Tigers were unusually successful against Feller in 1940 because Baker was reading all of Feller’s pitches.[7] Among Detroit hitters, it was said that Greenberg was the biggest beneficiary of Baker's tip-offs, although Greenberg himself said that "the importance of such information ... has been exaggerated."[3]

Another apparent beneficiary was Don Larsen, who wrote in his memoir:

During the 1956 season, I struggled with my control from time to time. I had a so-so 7 and 5 record going into the last month of the season. In a ball game against the Red Sox in Boston, late in the season, I noticed that their third base coach, Del Baker, was watching me very closely. Del had a great reputation for being able to somehow steal pitching signs, and relay them to his hitters. After some thought, I came to the conclusion that with my full pitching delivery, he was gaining an advantage for the hitters by homing in on how I held the baseball before I threw it to the plate.[8]

In response, Larsen adopted a "no-windup" delivery, which he used in the 1956 World Series to pitch the only perfect game in Series history, in Game Five.[9]

Managerial record

Team From To Regular season record Post–season record
W L Win % W L Win %
Detroit Tigers 1933 1933 2 0 1.000
Detroit Tigers 1936 1936 18 16 .529
Detroit Tigers 1937 1937 34 20 .630
Detroit Tigers 1937 1937 7 3 .700
Detroit Tigers 1938 1942 365 235 .608 3 4 .429
Boston Red Sox 1960 1960 2 5 .286
Total 419 360 .538 3 4 .429


  1. ^ a b c Baker dead; managed Tigers. New York Times (September 12, 1973), retrieved October 11, 2016.
  2. ^ "Baker Says Tigers Must Get Good Pitching to Defeat Reds". New York World-Telegram, Sept. 29, 1940.
  3. ^ a b c d Del Baker at, retrieved October 11, 2016.
  4. ^ Baseball Encyclopedia. The MacMillan.
  5. ^ Detroit Manager Admits He’s Just Another Guy". New York World-Telegram, March 28, 1941.
  6. ^ Lieb, FG. The Detroit Tigers. Putnam (1946), p. 248. ASIN: B0006AQWCY
  7. ^ Bartell, D. and Macht,NL. Rowdy Richard: A Firsthand Account of the National League Baseball Wars of the 1930s and the Men Who Fought Them. North Atlantic Books (1993), p. 273. ISBN 0938190970
  8. ^ Larsen, D. and Shaw, M. The Perfect Yankee: The Incredible Story of the Greatest Miracle in Baseball History. Sagamore Publishing (2001), p. 95. ISBN 1613210779
  9. ^ Larsen and Shaw (2001), p. 97.
  10. ^ Del Baker managerial record, retrieved October 11, 2016.

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Bucky Harris
Mickey Cochrane
Detroit Tigers manager
Succeeded by
Mickey Cochrane
Steve O'Neill
Preceded by
Bill Burwell
Boston Red Sox third-base coach
Succeeded by
Kiki Cuyler
Preceded by
Earle Combs
Boston Red Sox first-base coach
Succeeded by
Rudy York
Preceded by
Billy Jurges
Boston Red Sox manager
Succeeded by
Pinky Higgins
1933 Detroit Tigers season

The 1933 Detroit Tigers season was a season in American baseball. The team finished fifth in the American League with a record of 75–79, 25 games behind the Washington Senators.

1960 Boston Red Sox season

The 1960 Boston Red Sox season was the 60th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished seventh in the American League (AL) with a record of 65 wins and 89 losses, 32 games behind the AL champion New York Yankees.

Billy Hitchcock

William Clyde Hitchcock (July 31, 1916 – April 9, 2006) was an American professional baseball infielder, coach, manager, and scout in Major League Baseball (MLB). In Minor League Baseball, he served as president of the Double-A Southern League in 1971–80. His older brother, Jimmy Hitchcock, played briefly for the 1938 Boston Braves.

Bob Allen (shortstop)

Robert Gilman Allen (July 10, 1867 – May 14, 1943) was an American shortstop for the Philadelphia Phillies, the Boston Beaneaters and the Cincinnati Reds, as well as a manager for two brief stints with the Phillies and Reds. He was born in Marion, Ohio, and as a youth, played baseball with future president Warren G. Harding. Allen made his NL debut in 1890 with the Phillies, and in his day was considered a power hitter, hitting a career high eight home runs in 1893. When Allen's contract was up, he took a three-year hiatus from baseball, but he later joined the Beaneaters. His playing time diminished and he walked away from baseball again after the 1897 season. In 1900, he was hired as manager of the Reds, occasionally inserting himself into the game as a shortstop. He finished 62–77 and in seventh place. He was fired after one season at the helm.

He died in Little Rock, Arkansas at age 75.

Bob Scheffing

Robert Boden Scheffing (August 11, 1913 – October 26, 1985) was an American professional baseball player, coach, manager and front-office executive. Nicknamed "Grumpy", the native of Overland, Missouri, is most often identified with the Chicago Cubs, for whom he played as a catcher (1941–42, 1946–50), coached (1954–55), and managed (1957–59). Scheffing threw and batted right-handed; he was listed as 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m) tall and 180 pounds (82 kg).

As a Major Leaguer, Scheffing batted .263 with 357 hits in 517 games with the Cubs, Cincinnati Reds (1950–51) and St. Louis Cardinals (1951). His career began in 1935 in the Cardinals' farm system, but he was unable to crack the Major Leagues until he was selected by the Cubs in the 1940 Rule 5 draft. En route to the Majors, he spent the 1939 season as the 25-year-old playing manager of the Washington Red Birds of the Class D Pennsylvania State Association.

Bucky Harris

Stanley Raymond "Bucky" Harris (November 8, 1896 – November 8, 1977) was an American Major League Baseball player, manager and executive. In 1975, the Veterans Committee elected Harris, as a manager, to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Con Strouthers

Cornelius "Con" Strouthers was a baseball manager in the late 19th century and early 20th century. From 1895 to 1896, he was the third manager of the Detroit Tigers during their time in the Western League before they became a major league team in 1901. In 1904 he was the manager of the Augusta Tourists of the South Atlantic League or "Sally League" when he invited Ty Cobb, who would go on to a Hall of Fame career with the Tigers, to join the club.

Cy Perkins

Ralph Foster "Cy" Perkins (February 27, 1896 – October 2, 1963) was an American professional baseball player, coach and manager. He played as a catcher in Major League Baseball most notably for the Philadelphia Athletics. Perkins batted and threw right-handed, stood 5 feet 10 inches (1.78 m) tall and weighed 158 pounds (72 kg). He was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Perkins served as a catcher with the Philadelphia Athletics (1915, 1917–30), New York Yankees (1931) and Detroit Tigers (1934). He was the starting catcher for Philadelphia until Mickey Cochrane joined the team in 1925. After that Perkins served as a backup, being hailed as the man who taught Cochrane to catch without injuring his hands. He also was a member of the Athletics' World Series champion teams in 1929 and 1930.

In 17 MLB seasons and 1,171 games played, Perkins was a .259 hitter with 933 hits, 175 doubles, 35 triples, 30 home runs, and 409 runs batted in.

Following his playing career, Perkins coached for 17 years in the Major Leagues with the Yankees (1932–33), Tigers (1934–39) and Philadelphia Phillies (1946–54). He worked with two World Series champions, the Yankees of 1932 and the Tigers of 1935, and for two league pennant-winners, the 1934 Tigers and the 1950 Phillies. He also managed Detroit in 1937 (along with Cochrane and Del Baker) and posted a 6–9 record.

Cy Perkins died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the age of 67.

Frank Dwyer

John Francis Dwyer (March 25, 1868 – February 4, 1943) was an American right-handed pitcher and manager in Major League Baseball with the Chicago White Stockings (1888–1889), Chicago Pirates (1890), Cincinnati Kelly's Killers (1891), Milwaukee Brewers (1891), St. Louis Browns (1892) and Cincinnati Reds (1892–1899).

George Stallings

George Tweedy Stallings (November 17, 1867 – May 13, 1929) was an American manager and (briefly) player in Major League Baseball. His most famous achievement – leading the 1914 Boston Braves from last place in mid-July to the National League championship and a World Series sweep of the powerful Philadelphia Athletics – resulted in a nickname he would bear for the rest of his life: "The Miracle Man."

Jack Tighe

John Thomas Tighe (August 9, 1913 (1913-08-09) – August 1, 2002 (2002-08-01)), pronounced "tie", was an American minor league baseball player, coach, manager and scout for the Detroit Tigers of Major League Baseball.

Jim Leyland

James Richard Leyland (born December 15, 1944) is a retired Major League Baseball manager. He currently serves as a special assistant to the Detroit Tigers and is the manager of the United States national baseball team.

He led the Florida Marlins to a World Series championship in 1997, and previously won three straight division titles (1990, 1991, and 1992) with the Pittsburgh Pirates. With the Tigers victory in the 2006 American League Championship Series, Leyland became the seventh manager in history to win pennants in both the National and American Leagues. He is a three-time Manager of the Year Award winner, twice in the National League (1990 and 1992), and once in the American League (2006).

Larry Parrish

Larry Alton Parrish (born November 10, 1953) is a former Major League Baseball third baseman and manager. Parrish played with the Montreal Expos (1974–81), Texas Rangers (1982–88), and Boston Red Sox (1988). He also played two seasons in Japan for the Yakult Swallows (1989) and the Hanshin Tigers (1990). Later, he served as manager of the Detroit Tigers (1998–99).

Les Moss

John Lester Moss (May 14, 1925 – August 29, 2012) was an American professional baseball player, coach, scout and manager. He played in Major League Baseball as a catcher for the St. Louis Browns for the most significant portion of his career, and was a backup catcher almost all his career.

List of Detroit Tigers managers

The Detroit Tigers are a professional baseball team based in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers are members of the American League Central Division in Major League Baseball. In baseball, the head coach of a team is called the manager, or more formally, the field manager. The duties of the team manager include team strategy and leadership on and off the field. The team initially began in the now defunct Western League in 1894, and later became one of the American League's eight charter franchises in 1901. Since the inception of the team in 1894, it has employed 47 different managers. The Tigers' current manager is Ron Gardenhire, who was hired for the 2018 season.The franchise's first manager after the team's arrival in the American League was George Stallings, who managed the team for one season. Hall of Famer Hughie Jennings, who managed the team from 1907 to 1920, led the team to three American League championships. Jennings however was unable to win the World Series, losing to the Chicago Cubs in 1907 and 1908 and the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1909. The Detroit Tigers did not win their first World Series until 1935 under the leadership of player-manager Mickey Cochrane. Steve O'Neill later led the Tigers to another World Series victory again in 1945. The Tigers would not win another World Series until 1968 World Series when the Tigers, led by Mayo Smith, defeated the St. Louis Cardinals. Sparky Anderson's 1984 Detroit Tigers team was the franchise's last World Series victory, and marked the first time in Major League Baseball history that a manager won the World Series in both leagues. In total, the Tigers have won the American League pennant 10 times, and the World Series 4 times.

The longest tenured Tiger manager was Sparky Anderson. Anderson managed the team for 2,579 games from 1979 to 1995. Hughie Jennings, Bucky Harris and Jim Leyland are the only other Detroit Tiger managers who have managed the team for more than 1,000 games. Anderson's 1331 wins and 1248 losses also lead all Tiger managers, while Cochrane's winning percentage of .582 is the highest of any Tiger manager who has managed at least one full-season. Seven Hall of Famers have managed the Tigers: Ed Barrow, Jennings, Ty Cobb, Cochrane, Joe Gordon, Bucky Harris and Anderson. Barrow was elected as an executive, Jennings and Anderson were elected as managers; the others were elected as players.

Red Rolfe

Robert Abial "Red" Rolfe (October 17, 1908 – July 8, 1969) was an American third baseman, manager and front-office executive in Major League Baseball. A graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy, Rolfe also was an Ivy Leaguer: a graduate, then long-time athletic director of Dartmouth College, and (from 1943–46) baseball and basketball coach at Yale University.

Rolfe was a native of Penacook, New Hampshire. He batted left-handed, threw right-handed, and was listed as 5 feet 11 inches (1.80 m) tall and 170 pounds (77 kg).

Ron Gardenhire

Ronald Clyde Gardenhire (born October 24, 1957) is an American professional baseball player, coach, and current manager for the Detroit Tigers of Major League Baseball (MLB). He played as a shortstop for the New York Mets from 1981 through 1985. He managed the Minnesota Twins from 2002 through 2014. He served as a coach for the Twins from 1991 through 2001, and for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2017. He won the American League Manager of the Year Award in 2010.

Steve O'Neill

Stephen Francis O'Neill (July 6, 1891 – January 26, 1962) was an American professional baseball player and manager. He played in Major League Baseball as a catcher, most notably with the Cleveland Indians. As a manager, he led the 1945 Detroit Tigers to the World Series championship,

Tony Mullane

Anthony John "Tony" Mullane (January 20, 1859 – April 25, 1944), nicknamed "Count" and "The Apollo of the Box", was an Irish Major League Baseball player who pitched for seven teams during his 13-season career. He is best known as a pitcher that could throw left-handed and right-handed, and for having one of the highest career win totals of pitchers not in the Baseball Hall of Fame.


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