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Joe Baker was Billy Wright’s first marquee signing and Arsenal’s record signing at the time. He had been Hibernian’s top scorer for four years getting 102 goals in just 117 league games before moving to Torino.
Joe was a centre forward, despite being only 5 feet 7 inches tall. He was born in 1940 and went through several junior Scottish clubs before playing for Hibernian
The Hib’s board apparently refused to up his weekly wage from £12 to £17 and so sold him to Torino for £75k. However Joe was involved in a serious car crash, while there, and Joe, like other Britain’s who tried playing outside the UK did not fare well.
He was Arsenal’s record signing in July 1962 and made his début on 18 August 1962 in the opening league game of the season away to the newly promoted Leyton Orient
He was also remembered for a match where he had a fist fight with Ron Yates of Liverpool, and winning. Both were sent off – Joe said in the press after that he had never been sent off before in his life – although there was another report of him throwing a journalist into a canal while in Italy.
He was the top scorer for three of his four years with us, and got 100 goals in 156 games, playing alongside Geoff Strong who had come up through the youth and reserves teams. Near the end of his career, Wright sold Baker to Nottingham Forest for £65k – after which he moved on to Sunderland before going to Hibs again, and then Raith.
Baker retired in 1974, having scored 301 league goals in 507 games. He also won eight caps for England (he was born in Liverpool – and was that rarity – a man who plays for England without having played for an English club).
After playing, Joe Baker was manager of Albion Rovers – which I think was probably a part-time position. He ran a pub and worked for Hibs but died tragically young at 63 while playing in a golf tournament.
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