MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Baker meets old friend Namath before game

Baker meets old friend Namath before game

JUPITER, Fla -- Members of the Washington media were wondering why manager Dusty Baker was 20 minutes late for his pregame session on Sunday before his Nationals defeated the Cardinals, 5-2, at Roger Dean Stadium.

There was reason for Baker's tardiness. He spent nearly a half hour with his good buddy, NFL Hall of Famer Joe Namath. Their friendship goes back to the early 1970s when Baker was with the Braves.

"I used to go hang at one of [Namath's] places back in Fort Lauderdale back in the day," Baker recalled. "I was 19, 20 years old. And then him and Dick Allen were from the same area [in Pennsylvania]. They grew up together."

Then Baker yelled to first baseman Clint Robinson and said, "Hey, big boy, go say hello to [Namath]." Robinson was raised in Alabama and Namath went to the University of Alabama and helped the school win a national championship in 1964. Robinson followed Baker's advice and shook Namath's hand.

Baker then told outfielder Michael Taylor to introduce himself to the man who was known as Broadway Joe. Taylor went to get his bat in order to get ready for batting practice. Taylor joked that he didn't know who Namath was.

It's not a surprised that Baker knows people outside the baseball world. He was good friends with the late Bill Walsh, who guided the San Francisco 49ers to three Super Bowls.

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.