"You see a lot about somebody when they have nothing to gain," Matheny said. "He was just reaching out to me as a former player to encourage me and help me figure out what my next step was going to be. He made a huge impression on me."
Those conversations stopped after Matheny accepted the Cards' managerial offer, but mutual respect remained between the two National League Central skippers. In two years managing against Baker's Reds, Matheny's club posted a 19-15 record.
"I've got nothing but respect for Dusty on a professional level, and personal, too," Matheny said. "To me, his teams have always competed hard, and he's always there for his club. He's had a lot of success as a manager, and I know a lot of his players think highly of him."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.