Home Sports Column: Dusty Baker’s toothpicks are headed to the Hall of Fame — and other news to cheer you up on a gloomy Chicago day

Column: Dusty Baker’s toothpicks are headed to the Hall of Fame — and other news to cheer you up on a gloomy Chicago day

by staff

Just because Chicago has had no sunshine for more than a week, the teams in season are rebuilding or unintentionally awful, and the Cubs and White Sox are competing to see who can tick off their fans the most doesn’t mean it’s all bad.

Here are four things to cheer you up on a gloomy Chicago day.

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The Baseball Hall of Fame on Thursday revealed the items donated by the champion Houston Astros for its “Autumn Glory” exhibit, a tribute to the postseason at the Cooperstown, N.Y., museum.

Among the items are Justin Verlander’s spikes from Game 5, the jersey World Series MVP Jeremy Peña wore in Game 1 and a box of manager Dusty Baker’s toothpicks.

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No, really.

Who knew Baker’s toothpicks would make it to the Hall before Barry Bonds?

Baker’s jersey and wrist bands also will be on display, but the toothpicks undoubtedly be the main attraction at the new exhibit. A Hall of Fame spokesperson confirmed they are “the first toothpicks ever to enter the HOF’s collection.”

Was if Baker’s idea or the Hall’s?

“Hey, man, they asked me for those toothpicks,” Baker said during a break from a surfing vacation with his family in Hawaii. “I didn’t give them to them.”

So were the toothpicks actually chewed by Baker during the World Series, or were they unchewed ones from an opened box?

“It was in a box, but they wanted me to send them some chewed ones too,” he said. “I was like, ‘Nah, man.’ They may advertise them at the Hall as chewed, you know what I mean?”

Baker uses an Australian-made birchwood toothpick that’s infused with tea tree oil. It’s the same brand he used in Chicago when he managed the Cubs. In fact, Baker has been chewing on them since he began managing the San Francisco Giants in 1993.

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“Tea Tree Australian chewing sticks,” Baker said. “Same ones.”

According to a Tribune report by Charles Leroux in 2003, the company claimed the oil “has many curative and restorative powers.”

“My agent years ago called them and asked if I could endorse them for a fee,” Baker said with a laugh. “They told him they don’t need anybody to endorse them because people are going to use toothpicks anyway. Maybe they’ll change their minds by now.”

Baker said his dad was a longtime toothpick user who handed down the tradition. He prefers the Australian chewing sticks for his periodontal needs because “they don’t splinter” and one side is blunt. During COVID-19 protocols he wore a mask and could only use the toothpicks briefly in the dugout. He said he never has accidentally poked the inside of his mouth with an inadvertent toothpick twirl.

Before the call ended, Baker admitted his surfing days are over. His his son, Darren, was out on his surfboard while Dusty looked out on the ocean from his hotel room.

Nevertheless, it’s apparent Dusty is still riding the wave.

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York Knicks guard Derrick Rose walks to the locker room before playing the Bulls on Wednesday at the United Center.

The former Bulls star returned to Chicago this week with the New York Knicks for a rare two-game series at the United Center. Though his playing time is limited after falling behind Deuce McBride in the rotation, Rose, 34, continues to keep a positive outlook and told reporters he cares only about winning.

“The vibes in here are totally different, and the guy who is playing in front of me, Deuce, I can’t hate on that young man,” he said before Wednesday’s game. “I had him over for Thanksgiving last year. Real cool with his family members. Love the way that he’s playing. I’m happy for him.

“That’s why I’ve got to keep an upbeat-type rhythm. I never want to be in a slump or be down just because I’m not playing. When Deuce wasn’t playing, he wasn’t acting that way. I learn from everybody.”

While Rose saw many of his No. 1 jerseys worn by Bulls fans Wednesday, Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau opted not to play him, a recent trend. Hopefully Thibs will shed his inner Scrooge on Friday and at least insert Rose into the lineup for a few minutes, if only to get the kind of ovation he richly deserves.

Tiger Woods and Charlie Woods celebrate a birdie on the 13th hole during the final round of the PNC Championship on Dec. 19, 2021, at the Ritz Carlton Golf Club Grande Lakes in Orlando, Fla.

There comes a time in every dad’s life that his son or daughter starts beating him at pingpong, H-O-R-S-E or some other one-on-one competition.

That moment has arrived for 46-year-old Tiger Woods, whose 13-year-old son, Charlie, is outdriving him.

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“I hate to say it, but I’m going to admit it that he finally did it a few weeks ago,” Wood said Saturday during The Match. “I spun one, he tomahawked one and got me.”

Tiger and Charlie Woods team up again this weekend at the PNC Championship in Orlando, Fla., where 20 majors winners and a family member play together in a two-day scramble. It’s the third appearance for Team Woods and one that always bears watching.

Mississippi State coach Mike Leach watches his team from the sideline during a game against Texas A&M on Oct. 1, 2022, in Starkville, Miss.

The tributes to Mississippi State coach Mike Leach have been heartwarming and well-deserved for one of college football’s greatest ambassadors and offensive innovators.

But nothing was as cool as the school flying a pirate flag at half-staff at Davis Wade Stadium, honoring Leach by his nickname.

The Pirate would approve.

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