DOB: 24 March 1953
Number: 1 (1974-1981)
Games: 127 (147 total)
Goals: 116 (126 total)
Ruckman Baker had debuted for Footscray in the first of week of 1972 after appearing in their Reserves team the year before, but didn't play another game under the second round the next year. He managed 13 in total that year, for a total of 14 before being swapped by Footscray along with Charles Pagnoccolo and John Keast for Greg Parke.
His performance in the Reserves finals had impressed the Demon hierarchy, and Baker had an instant impact in the poor 1974 side, winning the Best First Year Player award. Improving his fitness, and general around the ground play Baker quickly became his side's number one ruckman.
In 1976 he suffered a hamstring injury in training before Round 12 and didn't play another game for the year. In 1977 he was played in a variety of positions because Craig McKellar had the ruck spot occupied. Baker considered leaving the club and joining a VFA side, but after McKellar retired Baker came into his own and won the 1978 Best and Fairest.
He suffered a knee injury in Round 1, 1979 which caused him to miss the next six matches. He had already injured his other knee during a basketball game at a sports exhibition during the pre-season after colliding with Tony Shaw of Collingwood. Melbourne sought compensation from the organisers of the exhibition.
Instead of an operationt that would end his season, Baker worked to strengthen his knee with exercise. He returned to play 16 matches for the season and another 16 in 1980 before he hurt his knee again. He played his last game in Round 13, 1981 but missed the rest of the season after more exploratory surgery on the knee. He missed the 1982 season but remained on the list until March 1983 when he was delisted.
After a practice game, the match committee decided that Baker was too old at 30 to regain full fitness again, and he was dropped from the list. Baker immediately joined Sydney but played just five games in 1983. He was offered a role as non-playing coach of the Swans' Reserves in 1985, but instead finished his career in the VFA with stints as coach at Mordialloc in 1985 and Moorabbin in 1986. Both times his stint at the club ended without him being paid in full for his services.
He then moved to Hobart to operate a hotel and played two games for Sandy Bay before retiring. In 1991 he played for Hobart side University's Fourths.
|Round 21, 1979||Striking||Not Guilty|
|1980 Pre-Season||Striking||Not Guilty|
May have been non-playing coach of Moorabbin.
In an Inside Football 1992 interview, Baker said the club didn't tell him he'd been delisted and he showed up for the club's jumper presentation but out when the announcer reached number 54 and he wasn't involved. Contemporary media reports suggest this was not correct (Age 22/03/1983)
Age - 16/06/1976
Age - 30/08/1978
Age - 22/02/1979
Age - 08/03/1979
Age - 10/04/1979
Inside Football - 17/05/1979
Inside Footballo - 02/07/1981
Age - 22/03/1983
Inside Football - 06/03/1986
Inside Football - 08/05/1986
Inside Football - 19/02/1992
AFLPlayers.com.au - 03/05/2016