10/20/2002 7:55 pm ET
Little Baker has schedule dilemma
Will bat boy attend swim lessons or possible Game 5?
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- By now, Dusty Baker's son Darren is a familiar presence in the Giants' dugout. At just 3 1/2 years old, images of the pint-size future big leaguer in the uniform that's just a bit too big have been captured by photographers and TV cameras nationwide.
When the World Series moves to San Francisco this week, Darren will likely be in uniform Tuesday and Wednesday ... but maybe not Thursday. Why? Well, Darren has a prior engagement ... swim lessons.
It's not that Baker is holding out on the media about Darren's availability on Thursday. It's just that nothing's been decided yet, and it may be a last-minute call largely depending on what Baker's wife, Melissa, has to say about it.
"I'm not sure if he's going to go on Thursday or not," Baker said. "It depends on where we are. He'll be the bat boy for one of those games for sure. I don't know about two -- but it's going to be tough to keep him away from any of them. It's up to his mom."
It's hard for Baker to say no to Darren. He mimics hitters and pitchers and his knowledge spans beyond Giants stars like J.T. Snow, Reggie Sanders and Kenny Lofton. He knows opposing players too -- Geoff Jenkins, Gary Sheffield and Shawn Green, just to name a few.
Sometimes, the two Bakers even talk strategy.
"The other day he told me I should have taken Livan (Hernandez) out after he walked somebody," the elder Baker laughed.
If Darren -- named after former Giant Darren Lewis -- wants to skip the swim lesson Thursday, chances are dad will relent to his son's wishes. After all, Darren was pretty convincing in persuading his father to allow him to be a bat boy in the first place.
"I didn't want him to do it until he was five, but then he kept bugging me," Baker said. "So I said 'OK, you can do it when you're four.' But he asked me every day, 'Am I four yet?' Finally I just said 'OK.' He said 'Daddy, I can do it. I can it do it.' So I let him do it."
Looks like Darren picked the right year to shave a year or two off the birth certificate. Darren was by his father's side for the Wild Card, Division Series and LCS clinchers.
"He didn't like people pouring champagne over his uniform," Baker recalled. "He says 'You've got to keep the uniform clean.' So he didn't like that part. He liked pouring the water over the head part instead."
If the Giants are in the position to clinch a World Series title Thursday, chances are Darren will skip the swim lesson to be a part of something that will likely stay in his mind far longer than the fundamentals of the doggie paddle or 50-meter freestyle.
"I know him," Baker said. "He'll want to go to the ballgame. He loves baseball."
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.