VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals manager Dusty Baker has been wearing uniform No. 12 dating back to when he was in grade school in Northern California. Why did he pick that number as a kid? It's because he idolized former Dodgers outfielder Tommy Davis, who wore the number in the 1960s.
One could see why Baker loved Davis as a kid. In 1962, for example, Davis led the Major Leagues with 153 RBIs and won the National League batting title with a .346 average.
"He could run, he led the league in hitting twice and he wasn't a real big home run hitter," Baker said.
The Nationals skipper eventually met his hero in the 1970s when Baker played with the Dodgers. Baker wasn't disappointed.
"He was one of my heroes [in the 1960s]. He was even more of my hero when I met him," Baker said. "Sometimes when you meet your heroes, you are disappointed. Tommy Davis, man, he was something."
Davis wasn't the only player Baker idolized as a kid. He admired Jim Brown, Gayle Sayers and Lenny Moore in football, Elgin Baylor and Nate Thurmond in basketball and Jesse Owens and Bob Hayes in track and field.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.