ATLANTA – Hank Aaron’s legacy is visible everywhere in this World Series.
His number 44 has been painted on Truist Park’s center field lawn throughout the season. And it will be seen by millions of viewers on Friday night, in the third game of the World Series, between the local Atlanta Braves and the Houston Astros.
But the impact of Aaron, a Hall of Famer who passed away on January 22, is greater.
“His fingerprints are all over this series,” said Houston manager Dusty Baker.
If it weren’t for Aaron, maybe neither Baker nor his Atlanta colleague Brian Snitker would fill their current jobs.
“I guess he helped shape us both. Dusty as a young player and me as a young manager and coach,” Snitker said Thursday. “It was very useful to have him in our careers, I know, because I knew that we both loved that man to death for what he did for us.”
Aaron was responsible for convincing Baker to sign with the Braves as a teenage outfielder in 1967. Aaron, who was already a star at the time, promised Baker’s mother that he would take care of her young son. “
He kept the promise. And he was always on the lookout, even after Baker’s career as a player ended.
“When we were talking, we probably weren’t talking about baseball as much,” Baker recalled Thursday. “The first thing I wondered was how my mother was … Like I said, he made a promise to my mother when I was 18.”
Baker was just 19 in 1968, when he made his major league debut for Atlanta, against the Astros, then a National League club.
As a branch manager for the Braves, Aaron paved the way for Snitker’s long career as a coach and manager. When it became clear that Snitker had no future as a catcher or first baseman, Aaron offered him an opportunity to continue in baseball as a coach.
Snitker has remained in the organization as an instructor, coach and manager for 40 years, including six as an Atlanta manager.
Baker, 72, and Snitker, 66, are trying to win their first World Series championship. Everyone feels Aaron’s presence and wishes their mentor was proud.
“I think about him all the time, especially on a show like this,” Baker said. “I am very sorry for your presence and that of my dad.”
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Hank Aaron’s Legacy lives in Snitker, Baker