HOUSTON -- Reds manager Dusty Baker has been coming to Houston as a player and a manager for most of the last 40 years. With the Astros moving to the American League West next season, Baker will miss managing in Houston on a regular basis.
"I know a lot of people here," Baker said. "I hit my first home run here. This is where I started playing every day."
At the Astrodome, on May 16, 1972, Baker, then playing with the Braves, hit his first homer, a solo shot off the Astros' Jerry Reuss in the third inning.
Baker started all three games of the Braves' series in Houston from May 15-17, and was an everyday player for most of the next 10 years.
Baker batted .297 and hit 13 homers in 105 games at the Astrodome, but said he would've preferred to play at Minute Maid Park. The Astrodome was notoriously tough on home run hitters.
Houston is a much bigger city now than it was in 1972.
"It wasn't nearly this big when I first started coming here," Baker said.
Reds who grew up near or in Houston -- Homer Bailey, Jay Bruce and Xavier Paul among them -- won't be able to come home and play in front of family as often in the next few years.
Those three have played well in Houston during their careers. Bailey is 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA in four starts at Minute Maid Park. Bruce entered Sunday's game batting .289 with seven homers and 20 RBIs in 37 games in Houston. Paul was batting .400 (8-for-20) in Houston.