CINCINNATI -- Dusty Baker compared himself to a little kid, in awe and at a for loss words, when he spent time around Muhammad Ali.
Baker had a few chances to spend time with Ali, most notably in 2009 when the first Civil Rights Game was played in Cincinnati. Baker cherished those memories and moments Saturday, a day after Ali passed away in a Phoenix-Area hospital. He was 74.
"It's a tremendous loss," Baker said. "Muhammad Ali gave us all, especially young black men, a sense of pride and strength."
Baker remembered identifying with Ali when he was a teenager, and that Ali and what he stood for and represented helped Baker get through some tough times in his life. The two crossed paths on a few separate occasions, and Baker enjoyed it each time.
"It was real cool. He was always a champ. He was always special," Baker said. "At that time, you hope that he was able to talk. Earlier, especially when he was younger, you did most of the listening and he did most of that talking. That made it easy."
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.