Mims knew Baker ’ s dad and has crafted personalized Mother ’ sulfur Day and Father ’ s Day wristbands for Baker to wear in seasons past. This year, the lapp temper Baker reached his milestone 2,000th managerial win, Mims wanted to do something particular again for Johnnie Baker Sr.
“ I don ’ thyroxine know if this is going to be Dusty ’ second last year, but what I do know is I wanted to pay court to Mr. Baker for what he meant to me in the fourth dimension I had known him, and I know how important that is to Dusty, ” Mims said .
The wristbands are based on a photograph from Baker ’ s fourth dimension managing the San Francisco Giants and embroidered with painstaking detail. Baker wears his Giants uniform and hat. His signature toothpick hangs out of his mouth. A Mims wristband is visible on his arm. His father, smiling heartily, looms over his left shoulder, dressed in a suit with a matching wide-brimmed hat .
Baker often credits his father, who died in 2009, for teaching him discipline and how to move through the universe as a Black man. When Baker began managing the Astros in 2020, he added “ Jr. ” to the back of his jersey to honor his dad .
The Father ’ s Day wristbands use a design Mims initially made stopping point year for the Topps 70th anniversary project .
“ When I showed Dusty that I did this, he was short-circuit on words — which is not easy for Dusty, ” Mims said. “ Dusty is a chip off the previous jam, therefore when you see dusty, that ’ s Mr. Baker. That matter-of-fact tone that people can misread, that ’ s how ( Mr. Baker ) was. How he felt is what he would say, but he ’ d say it in such a manner that it didn ’ thymine hurt you. ”
Mims grew up in Los Angeles around Dodger Stadium, where his father has worked for more than 40 years. His godfather was Jim Gilliam, the former Dodgers musician and coach. Mims was 12 in 1976 when he first met Baker, who was then in his foremost season bet for L.A. after being traded from the Braves .
Baker walked up and introduced himself to the male child, and the two struck up a friendship that hush exists. Baker was the one who introduced Mims to Hank Aaron and in 1978 broke the news of Gilliam ’ s death .
“ He ’ second been pretty instrumental in a set of things that have happened to me in my life, ” Mims said. “ Outside of my dad and my godfather, he ’ second right up there with all of them. ”
When Mims came up with the mind for a wristband business while a student at the University of Southern California in 1986, Baker, who was about to embark on the final year of his playing career with the Oakland A ’ sulfur, served as the muse for his prototype .
Mims conceived a bare-assed sketch of Baker in his A ’ second cap and paid person in business district L.A. to hand-stitch it onto a green-and-gold watchband along with Baker ’ second signature. It cost $ 175 for a individual isthmus, but Mims figured it was a worthwhile investing. He was right .
Mims drove to Baker ’ randomness sign of the zodiac in Calabasas, Calif., to show him the wristband. Baker was encouraging without being excessively enthused. Mims inactive has the prototype, which he keeps stored individually in a money pouch inside a safe underneath his bed .
“ That ’ s the one that kind of started it all, ” Mims said. “ It had big bones, just needed a small fine-tune here, little fine-tune there. once I tweaked it, that was it. ”
A few months late, Mims drove down to Palm Springs, where the A ’ sulfur were playing the Angels during spring train, to show Baker an upgrade version. Baker agreed to wear the wristbands and began talking them up to his friends in the league, creating what Mims described as a “ snowball consequence ” that transformed his mind into a full-fledged business.
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“ I had no idea what his reach was in baseball, ” Mims said. “ He just gave me a number of guys to talk to, and every individual one of them said yes. They knew that if I came from Dusty that it was legit. ”
Mims was soon customizing wristbands for some of MLB ’ s most celebrated names, each one adorned with the player ’ sulfur grimace and autograph and a short motto ( often a bible verse or, in the 1980s and ’ 90s, “ Say no to drugs ” ). Reggie Jackson, now a special adviser to Astros owner Jim Crane, was a customer during his play days and is one of a twelve Hall of Famers to wear Mimsbandz .
Baker, who celebrated his 73rd birthday Wednesday and is in his 25th season as a coach, is Mims ’ longest-tenured customer. Baker even took one of the wristbands he wore during his 2,000th gain and donated it to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y .
The wristbands Baker wears today still bear his face from his play days but are in Astros colors — orange, navy and white with occasional yellow or red as a nod to the franchise ’ s old rainbow uniforms .
Baker is specially a fan of tri-color wristbands, and Mims said he tries not to repeat semblance combinations. He estimated he sends Baker 40-50 pairs each season, with specially designed pairs for occasions like Father ’ second Day and the All-Star Game, which Baker will manage this year. Baker never knows what a new batch will look like until he opens the box .
“ The excitement that I get out of it equitable by seeing my guys the way that they are and how they respond, that ’ s what does it for me even to this day, ” Mims said. “ I hush get aroused when I see my product on the field. When I see cold walking out of the dugout canoe or doing anything in pictures, it is humbling. How it started, some of the challenges, things that have gone on precisely to make it to this steer, it ’ sulfur phantasmagoric. ”
Like many people in baseball, Baker is superstitious. If a pair of wristbands was worn during an Astros passing, he gives them off to kids in the stands .
“ They know it. ‘ You lost yesterday, Dusty ! ’ ” Baker said, mimicking kids calling out to him after the Astros dropped a pair of games to the Marlins during their last homestand. He pointed to the united states navy and white wristbands he put on before the Astros won the series stopping point .
“ I mean, I got these from direction in the back of the cabinet, ” he said. “ I ’ ve got to go call my guy good now. ”
not everyone who wants to wear Mimsbandz can. Mims is selective about whom he chooses to represent his intersection, wanting each wearer to be a great person deoxyadenosine monophosphate good as a talented ballplayer. current players who wear the wristbands include A ’ second second base baseman Tony Kemp ( a former Astro ), Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado and White Sox infielder Josh Harrison .
Despite his wristbands ’ longevity in baseball, Mims has encountered obstacles. The MLB Players ’ Association sued Mims in 2017, alleging he violated its license agreement. The become was settled, and Mims said he is even collaborating with PA executive conductor Tony Clark on ideas for league-wide watchband initiatives .
No matter who puts on the wristbands, Baker will constantly be the first gear .
“ This merchandise that I have represents the players unlike any other, ” Mims said. “ Everything else is about the trade name. With this one, it ’ south about the player. … It ’ s not a lap. It ’ s not three stripes. It ’ s not a UA. It is them, and they appreciate that. There ’ s nothing else out there that ’ s like it. ”
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danielle.lerner @ chron.com