Dusty Baker, who you probably best know (somewhat unfairly) as the author of many befuddling managerial decisions, wasn’t necessarily destined for a career in baseball. His first love was actually music, and now he’s written a memoir of attending the infamous 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, which featured a disgustingly stacked lineup of artists like Simon & Garfunkel, The Steve Miller Band, Jefferson Airplane, Otis Redding, The Who, the Grateful Dead, The Mamas & the Papas, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and more.
In The New Yorker, Charles Bethea has a short review of “Kiss the Sky,” as well as an interview with Baker. According to the book, Baker’s mom gifted him and a friend tickets and the family station wagon to attend the Monterey Pop Festival. He had been drafted in the 27th round by the Braves earlier that year, and when attending the Festival he had a “no grass” rule, which seems like a real bummer:
The teen-agers slept in the car and agreed on a rule to preserve their athletic futures: “No grass!” The last day, they watched Hendrix set his guitar on fire. “I knew what I was hearing and that was a guy who could give his music a crackle and growl and scream, could detonate it like a stack of dynamite, but do it all in the music, in the groove, true to the integrity of his musical sources,” Baker writes of Hendrix. “And best of all, he was having himself one heck of a great time.”
The next year, after running into Hendrix in San Francisco, Baker reconsidered:
The summer after the Monterey Pop Festival, Baker was briefly called up to the Braves, the first of his nineteen seasons as a professional ballplayer. After his first stint in the bigs, Baker writes, he ran into Jimi Hendrix on the streets of San Francisco one night and, having abandoned the “no grass” rule, smoked a joint with him. (He’s mum about the words they exchanged, if he remembers them.) All of this by nineteen.
Dusty Baker and Jimi Hendrix smoking a joint in San Francisco. What a world.
Photo of Dusty messing with the Phillie Phanatic in 1978 via AP