SAN DIEGO (AP) — As an estimated 9 billion people around the world watched via streaming video on the Internet Saturday, San Diego Padres rookie center fielder Darren Baker capped off one of the most improbable first-year seasons in baseball history with three home runs, two stolen bases, 7 RBI and two spectacular defensive plays in the Padres season-ending rout of the Portland Dodgers.
Baker, son of former Cubs Hall-of-Fame manger Dusty Baker, in just one season, has become the most dominate player in baseball, and has already staked a claim as the man most likely to challenge his hero’s career records.
“Darren is quite a ballplayer,” Barry Bond’s said in a post-game chat with AP, which was viewed by four-billion baseball fans. “He’s just a natural. You could see his passion for the game when he was just three or four. You knew then he would be something special.”
In a season that saw the Padres win 100 or more games for the 15th-straight year, Baker added to their fearsome lineup by hitting 70 home runs, driving in 150 runs, stealing 60 bases and staking a claim on what will certainly be the first in a long stream of golden glove awards.
“I’m happy to help the Padres win,” said Baker. “This team has dominated baseball for the last 20 years, and I’m just happy to get a chance to contribute.”