10/25/2002 01:57 am ET
Little Baker's safe at home
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- If it's true that numbers don't lie, the Giants might have to build a bat boy Hall of Fame for one Darren Baker.
The Giants, one win away from their first World Series title since moving to the Bay area in 1958, are 8-0 in the postseason this year when 3 1/2-year-old Darren is in the dugout.
Surely you've seen little Darren by now, a pint-sized version of his dad, Dusty, wearing a uniform that won't fit him until he's five, serving as the picker-upper of bats that are significantly taller than he is.
Darren is a bona-fide good-luck charm for the Giants this year. He's the only one in uniform who's batting a thousand.
Mini Baker missed Game 3 with an earache. The Giants lost. Darren was back in the dugout for Game 4. The Giants won. He was there again for Game 5, and wouldn't you know -- the Giants won again.
So it's safe to say Darren's presence in the dugout is not only a welcome addition, but these days, it's practically required. On Thursday, however, Darren momentarily stole the spotlight from the action between the lines in a rather frightening manner. Now that we know the outcome, we can look back on this and laugh, but for a fleeting moment, little Darren nearly was caught in the path of a runaway train.
It was the seventh inning, and Kenny Lofton hit a one-out triple off the wall in right-center. J.T. Snow, perched on third, sprinted home to score the Giants' ninth run of the game. As he neared home plate, however, Snow noticed Darren, in all of his innocent eagerness to retreive Lofton's bat, standing about two inches off the plate.
Snow heroically managed to touch home plate, grab Darren by the back of his jacket and whisked the tot away before David Bell crossed the plate and collided with the younger Baker.
Baker -- the skipper -- watched the incident from his usual spot in the dugout and immediately thought of his own mother, who was probably going to have some choice words about this episode.
"I was thinking what my mom told me. 'He shouldn't be out there, he's gonna get hurt,'" Baker recalled. "I said 'Mom, I know what I'm doing.' The first call I got in the clubhouse (after the game) was my mom to tell me 'I know you listen to me sometimes, just listen to me this time.' She told me to thank J.T. for saving him."
Said Snow, "Luckily, Kenny hit that ball off the wall and I went back to tag and I didn't have to run real hard to score. When I looked down, I saw a little flash behind me. Darren does such a great job of going out and getting the bats -- he's so eager all the time -- and I realized it was him."
Snow recalled looking down at Darren to make sure he was OK.
"His eyes were huge," Snow said. "I don't think he knew what was going on."
Fortunately, Darren Baker retreated back to the dugout safely, where Snow had a man-to-man chat with the kid. Just to make sure he wasn't hurt.
"He said he was fine," Snow said. "I said 'Way to go' and that was basically it."
Rich Aurilia, who was standing on deck when the scene unfolded, admitted he was caught off guard by Darren's presence at the plate during such an inopportune time.
"The next thing I know, I see J.T. picking up a little thing in a uniform," he said. "I guess he got him out of the way. I didn't realize how close he was. Everybody can laugh about it now but thank goodness he didn't get hurt."
Said Jeff Kent, "He was hustling. That cute little kid was hustling."
The mishap will not deter the elder Baker from allowing his son to suit up for Saturday's contest in Anaheim. After all, with that track record, Darren's incredible undefeated postseason run may be the missing link that will send the Giants to the title.
"A couple of the guys said that if he doesn't go, they don't go," the elder Baker said. "So, he's going to Anaheim."
"We all have our eyes on him," Reggie Sanders said. "He's our good luck charm so we can't get rid of him. We will protect him. He's fine."
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.