TRIBUTES have been paid to Hibs’ former striker, and first ever foreign player, Gerry Baker who has died at the age of 75.
The marksman, who was the older brother of club legend Joe Baker, died just weeks before the publication of author Tom Maxwell’s book about the pair entitled The Fabulous Baker Boys: The Greatest Strikers Scotland Never Had.
A US international, Gerry scored 43 goals in 83 games for the Easter Road side between 1961 and 1963; Joe himself netted 159 times for the club.
Gerry attended Famous Five legend Lawrie Reilly’s funeral at the beginning of the month before falling ill himself at the beginning of last week.
Tom Maxwell said: “The book is out on September 5 but sadly Gerry will not be around for it. He was a great guy, incredibly likeable. He was the kind of guy who could walk into a room and begin chatting with anyone. I know these kind of things are always said in tributes but I do mean that sincerely.”
Born in New Rochelle, New York to Scottish parents, Gerry became a US international while Liverpool-born Joe was in Alf Ramsey’s initial England squad for the 1966 World Cup.
Tom added: “They were both proud Scots, who were brought up in Motherwell but due to international rules had to turn out for the country of their births. Gerry had a great spell at Hibs becoming their first ever foreign player and scoring a goal in every two games. He always spoke well of the club and had a lot of happy memories, both brothers idolised the Famous Five and Lawrie Reilly.”
A spokesman for Hibs said: “Everybody at Hibernian was saddened to learn our former striker, Gerry Baker has passed away. His association with Hibernian may have been brief, but he was our first ‘foreign’ player and he left a lasting impression at Easter Road. Once a Hibee, always a Hibee and there will always be a special place for the Baker brothers in Hibernian folklore.”
Upon hearing of Gerry’s passing, lifelong Hibs fan Irvine Welsh tweeted: “Sad to hear of the death of Hibs and United States of America international striker Gerry Baker.”
Fellow fans have also posted numerous tributes to the former player on forums and social media sites.
Gerry was manager Walter Galbraith’s first signing in November 1961. He had experienced spells with Chelsea and hometown team Motherwell before completing a move to St Mirren in November 1958.
The pinnacle of his time in Paisley was spearheading St Mirren’s forward line in the 1959 Scottish Cup Final where Baker scored the team’s last goal in a 3-1 triumph.
Transferred to Manchester City for £30,000 in November 1960, he only spent a year at Maine Road before taking over Hibernian’s number nine jersey; previously occupied by his younger sibling.
Baker senior scored 43 goals in 83 appearances for Hibs before joining Ipswich Town for £25,000 in 1963.