Steve Baker played 57 career NHL games over parts of four seasons with the New York Rangers. (THN Archive)
Status: New York Rangers goaltender 1979-1983. Member of 1981 U.S. Canada Cup Team. Current scout for Tampa Bay Lightning.
Height: 6-foot-3 Weight: 200 pounds
DOB: May 6, 1957 In: Boston
First Hockey Memory: "I grew up in the Boston area and it was in the Orr-Esposito era so rinks were springing up left and right and a lot of them were open air. And I just remember the first time when I got my first pair of skates – Christmas. Getting the chance to get out there on the ice and have at her. And surprised myself I think at how easy I was able to use the edges. It just kind of took off from there."
Hockey Inspirations: "In terms of people, again, in terms of growing up in the Boston area with the Big Bad Bruins – Bobby Orr – the best, in my opinion, that ever laced them up. And perhaps that will ever lace them up. And Phil Esposito. It's just amazing to me, having watched him in his prime and having had an opportunity to actually play with him in New York. It was just an incredible experience."
Nicknames: "Bakes, Bake The Snake, Broadway Baker."
Favorite Movie: "Bridge On The River Kwai."
Last Book Read: "The Pat Tillman book."
Favorite TV Show: "How about Mad Men."
Musical Tastes: "Right now I'm listening to a lot of (Michael) Buble."
First Job: "Was at my high school. I used to actually do some janitorial work after school to make a couple of bucks."
Current Car: "Right now I'm in a Lincoln MKX. It's big enough to fit my rather sizeable behind (smiles)."
Favorite Meal: "Probably a nice Yankee pot roast dinner."
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: "Chocolate chip does it."
Greatest Sports Moment: "It was a tremendous honor to be able to have the opportunity to lead the Rangers in the Stanley Cup (1981). Unfortunately I got only one opportunity to do it. I was injured rather seriously the next season. But to be able to take a 14th place club to the semifinals of the Stanley Cup, that was just incredible – my teammates were incredible. It was a wonderful experience. I wish I had more opportunities to be able to take runs at it."
Most Painful Moment: "Torn groin. Halloween night. Boston Garden. Remember it like it was yesterday because it was basically the beginning of the end. Certainly the medical staffs that one had back in those days was nowhere close to what we have now with the money that we're paying the players. And it was pretty much a situation where I was rather severely hurt. Tore the muscle off the bone. And they basically said, ‘Come back to us when you're ready to play again.’ That pretty much took a year out of my life. And by that time they had made personnel moves. So I was on the outside looking in and that was tough to take."
Favorite Uniforms: "Well, I'm certainly partial to the Rangers. Most of the Original Six uniforms were done in great taste. But I really like the Blackhawks uniform. That's a pretty sharp uniform. But the Rangers were great too."
Funniest Players Encountered: "Donnie Murdoch would have to be right up at the top there. ‘Doc’ was always a sketch. Eddie Johnstone was funny in his own way. Brad Park could certainly be very funny. Rod Gilbert could be a cut up."
Toughest Competitors: "We used to run into some pretty tough Philadelphia teams back in the day with the Broad Street Bullies clubs. Behn Wilson. Big Bob Dailey. Moose Dupont. (Reggie) Leach. And Billy Barber. Mr. Clarke. That whole club, you always knew that you were going to go down there and come out with about 13 welts on your body because you're going to see 40-plus shots down there. A lot of guys used to get the Philly flu back in the day (smiles)."
Funny Hockey Memory: "We pretty much got Eddie Hospodar one time on a west coast trip coming back to New York after being out there for an entire week. He made the mistake of falling asleep and we took off his stockings and we painted his toenails red and his fingernails red. Of course, then you flew commercial and everyone was getting a kick out of that. He was a pretty tough kid in his day. Then, another one that comes to mind, Frankie Beaton actually wore a big, 10-gallon hat on a west coast swing. Of course, the veteran guys on the team said, ‘That hat will never make it.’ Frank said, ‘You guys touch it and you're dead.’ He made the mistake of falling asleep a half-hour outside of LaGuardia and we had everybody on the plane – including the stewardesses – and everyone else who was with us sign the hat for him and put it back on his head. He wasn't too pleased to say the least (smiles)."
Embarrassing Hockey Memory: "I don't know if it was embarrassing to me, but it was kind of funny to see an old teammate Jimmy 'Seaweed' Pettie, who came in from the Bruins organization, put band-aids over his eye slots in his mask and a couple of lit cigarettes up his nose and put his catching glove on the end of his stick and just stood to the side of the net just waving it at practice. That was pretty funny."
Strangest Game: “There was a strange one – I played quite a few of the games on the back half of the year after they made some personnel moves the year that we did go to the semifinal of the Stanley Cup. I remember having played a lot of hockey and we played a Sunday night game at Madison Square Garden against the Quebec Nordiques. And they had a pretty high-powered offense. It was one of those nights where I could not stop a beach ball; I was crawling around on my belly like a reptile most of the night. And they filled the net, I think, for seven on me. We ended up in a 7-7 tie. Coming back to the locker room and just getting on my knees and kind of waving to the guys, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you (smiles).’ ”
Personality Qualities Most Admired: "Well, certainly integrity, tenacity, caring conviction, commitment, dedication and desire and determination. I mean, those are all things I think are lacking in a great degree in the world. I certainly admire them and I'm sure a lot of other people do as well."