Sept. 16, 2009
MIAMI, FLA. - Former California catcher John Baker, who was a standout for the Golden Bears from 2000-2002, has been named the 2009 Florida Marlins' winner of Major League Baseball's Heart & Hustle Award. Each of the 30 MLB teams has a Heart & Hustle Award winner. The overall winner for Major League Baseball will be honored on Nov. 6 at the Legends for Youth Dinner in New York. A story on Baker earning the award and a video of Baker can be seen on MLB.com. Baker on MLB.com
The Heart & Hustle Award is voted on by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association and is presented to an active player who demonstrates a passion for the game and best embodies the values, spirit and traditions of the game. Currently, Baker is batting .268 (91-for-339) with 25 doubles, nine home runs and 47 RBI for the Marlins, who are four and a half games behind the Colorado Rockies the National League Wildcard Race. In his two years in the major leagues, he has a .280 career average (150-for-536) with 39 doubles, 14 home runs and 79 RBI. After six and a half years of Minor League Baseball, Baker was called up to the majors for the first time in his career on July 9, 2008.
Baker was teammates with fellow major leaguer Conor Jackson (Arizona Diamondbacks) on Cal's 2001 NCAA Regional squad that traveled to Baton Rouge, La. As a junior in 2002, he earned first team All-Pac-10 honors and was drafted in the fourth round by the Oakland A's (128th pick overall). Baker finished the `02 campaign batting a team-leading .383 with 12 doubles, a triple, five home runs and 29 RBI, despite missing three weeks with a broken right hand. He also had a Pac-10-leading .516 on-base percentage and a team-best .456 batting average against conference competition. Baker was one of 10 finalists for the Johnny Bench Award as the nation's top collegiate catcher as well.