By Chris Amaya
ST. PAUL, Minn. — A No. 19 jersey with no last name scored for the St. Paul Saints in the bottom of the first inning of their game against the Winnipeg Goldeyes.
The player wearing the jersey was shortstop Chris Baker, who made his debut for the Saints in their 10-9 win Friday, July 12, 2019, at CHS Field. By Thursday he knew his destination would be St. Paul, but he didn’t sign an official contract with the team until a few hours before game time.
The San Mateo, California, native was drafted in the 17th round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres. He made the Northwest League All Star game with the Tri City Dust Devils in his first season of professional baseball.
“He’s been around and he’s played Double-A,” Saints manager George Tsamis said. “The higher they’ve been, the more experience they have.”
Baker last played for the Double-A Amarillo Sod Poodles, where he batted .192 with two home runs and eight RBIs. His last game in Amarillo, Texas was June 29th.
The shortstop wasted no time making an impact, as he scored the first run for St. Paul off a double from first baseman Brady Shoemaker. Baker also made one of the most important plays of the game when he hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game up at 9-9.
Shoemaker said Baker handled his pregame situation with ease and was able to contribute to the team quickly.
“He put together good at-bats,” Shoemaker said. “Late in the game in a tough spot he had a good pitch, tied the game up and got us right back into it.”
Baker finished his first game in St. Paul batting 1-4 with one home run and three RBI. After the game, the University of Washington alumnus said he wasn’t sure how long he would play for the Saints, but he knew he wanted to get his last name printed on his No. 19 jersey for the next game.
“I’ll probably get a last name on there, hopefully by tomorrow,” Baker said.