Post by Rick B.
Don Baylor, 1979 MVP, Rockies and Cubs manager dies at 68
By Craig Calcaterra Aug 7, 2017, 10:05 AM EDT
Sad news from Austin this morning, as the Austin American-Statesman reports that
Don Baylor, the 1979 American League Most Valuable Player and former big league
manager has died. He was 68 and been suffering from multiple myeloma.
Baylor was a multi-sport star from Austin who was offered a football scholarship
from the University of Texas but turned it down to play baseball. If he had gone
to UT he wouldve been the schools first black football player. Instead he was
drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the second round of the 1967 draft. He broke
into the bigs in 1970 but played sparingly that season and the next due to being
blocked by Frank Robinson and Don Buford, who starred for an absolutely loaded
Orioles squad. Robinson would be traded following the 1971 season and Baylor
would become a fixture in the corner outfield spots for Baltimore for the next
four seasons, hitting .275/.348/.433 while stealing 117 bases. Hed steal 52 in
1976 after being traded by the Os to Oakland in the Reggie Jackson deal. Even
the graying among us remember Baylor mostly as a power-hitting DH in the second
half of his career. Its sometimes easy to forget the fact that he was an
athletic and well-rounded player in his early days.
He was certainly a more valuable player later, however. Quite literally,
actually, winning the AL MVP in 1979 as the California Angels DH. That year
Baylor hit .296/.371/.530 with 36 homers and 139 RBI while leading the Angles to
the AL West crown. Curiously, that year Baylor was only hit by 11 pitches, one
of his lower season totals. Baylor was otherwise famous for getting plunked,
leading the league eight times in his career. Hed retire as the all-time leader
in that category in the post-deadball era with 267. Craig Biggio would later
After leaving the Angels, Baylor would continue to have productive years in New
York with the Yankees and in Boston with the Red Sox, winning three Silver
Slugger Awards between 1983 and 1986. His teams made the postseason seven times,
though hed only get one World Series ring with the 1987 Twins. That was an odd
year for Baylor, as he wasnt traded to Minnesota until September 1 and was a
non-factor in the seasons final month. Hed hit .385/.467/.615 in five World
Series games, however. Hed retire after one more year back in Oakland in 1988,
finishing with a career line of .260/.342/.436, 338 homers, 1,276 RBI and 285
stolen bases over 19 seasons. He was on three World Series teams in his final
three seasons: Boston in 1986, Minnesota in 1987 and Oakland in 1988.
Baylor would serve as the hitting coach for the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis
Cardinals before being named the Colorado Rockies first ever manager before the
1993 season. Hed manage the Rockies for six seasons, making the playoffs as the
NLs first-ever Wild Card winner in 1995 and finishing with a record of 440-469
in Colorado. After one season as the Braves hitting coach in 1999, the Cubs
would hire him as their skipper. Hed go 187-220 in two full years and a partial
2002 season. After leaving Chicago hed serve as the Mets bench coach in 2003-04
before hitting coach stints in Seattle, Colorado, Arizona and Anaheim.
As is evidenced by both the eagerness of teams to hire him and the word of mouth
from people who knew him well, Baylor was an almost universally respected and
beloved figure within the game. He was also a great player and a fine manager.
He will be missed.
Don Baylor, Slugging M.V.P. in the American League, Dies at 68
By RICHARD SANDOMIR, AUG. 7, 2017, NY Times
Don Baylor, a respected outfielder and designated hitter who won the
American Leagues Most Valuable Player Award in 1979 and mastered the
peculiar art of being hit by a pitch, died on Monday in Austin, Tex.
He was 68.
His death was reported by MLB.com. Baylor learned he had multiple
myeloma in 2003.
Baylor played for six teams over 19 seasons, including the 1987 World
Series champion Minnesota Twins. He also managed the Colorado Rockies
and Chicago Cubs.
Few players exhibited less awe for pitchers than the muscular,
6-foot-1, 210-pound Baylor. Over the years, as he took his stance in
the batters box, he crept closer to home plate, finally taking the
inside part of the strike zone away from the pitcher. And if he was
plunked by a pitch, he didnt mind.
My first goal when I go to the plate is to get a hit, he said in the
book The 1986 Boston Red Sox: There Was More Than Game Six (2016).
My second goal is to get hit.
By the time he retired in 1988, he had been hit 267 times, a
modern-day record at the time. (It was surpassed by Craig Biggio of
the Houston Astros.)
Baylors major league career began in 1970 with the Orioles, who had
won the World Series in 1966 and would win it again in 1970. His
mentor was the future Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, an aggressive,
intimidating player who later managed Baylor on the Santurce team in
the winter league in Puerto Rico after the 1970 season.
Mostly, he taught me to think while hitting, Baylor was quoted as
saying in the book about the 1986 Red Sox. He would say, A guy
pitches inside, hit that ball right down the line. Frank also wanted
me to start using my strength more. Frank knew there was a pull hitter
buried somewhere inside me.
But just as Baylor was starting to demonstrate the full scope of his
talents, the Orioles sent him to the Oakland Athletics in a six-player
deal before the 1976 season that brought Reggie Jackson to Baltimore.
Baylor was shocked at the trade and wept when he was told about it by
Manager Earl Weaver during an exhibition game. He did not want to
leave the Orioles.
After a mediocre season with Oakland his major highlight was
stealing 52 bases he signed a free-agent contract with the
California Angels. But in his first season with the Angels he was
slumping badly, and the team hired Robinson, who had been fired as
manager of the Cleveland Indians, as batting coach. Don is so fouled
up now that he needs a lot of work, Robinson told Sports Illustrated.
Baylor recovered to have a good season. He blossomed in 1978 and 1979,
when he hit 36 home runs, drove in 139 runs, batted .296 and easily
won the M.V.P. Award.
By then, Baylor had established himself as a leader both on and off
There was no one more feared in the league coming into second base,
Bobby Grich, who played second base as a teammate of Baylors on the
Orioles and Angels, told The Los Angeles Times in 2002. He came in
like a locomotive. And he had no weaknesses. He led through quiet
example. He never let up. He played hurt. He could take a beating.
Baylor never wanted to admit that being hit by pitches hurt him. But
when the fireballing Nolan Ryan nailed him in the wrist, he called the
Orioles trainer to freeze the injured area, which stayed numb for a
Bert Blyleven, a Hall of Fame pitcher who played with and against
Baylor, recalled hitting him with a pitch that somehow got stuck under
He grabbed it and threw it back at me, Blyleven said in a phone
interview on Monday. I looked at it to see if it was dented.
Don Edward Baylor was born in Austin on June 28, 1949. His father,
George, was a baggage handler for the Missouri Pacific Railroad; his
mother, Lillian, was a school cook and cafeteria supervisor. He was
one of the three African-American students to integrate O. Henry
Junior High School.
He played basketball, football and baseball at Austin High School and
was recruited to play football at several colleges, including the
University of Texas. But he chose baseball and was drafted by the
Orioles in 1967.
Baylor had to wait until late in his career to play in the World
Series in 1986, with the Boston Red Sox.
He had played three seasons with the Yankees, from 1983 to 1985, but
the team did not make the postseason, and he was traded to Boston in
late March 1986. (He had not gotten along with George Steinbrenner,
the Yankees tempestuous owner.)
Although he batted only .238 that year with Boston, he hit 31 home
runs, had 94 runs batted in and was hit by pitches a career-high 35
The Red Sox faced the Mets in the World Series and were tantalizing
close to winning it in Game 6 until Mookie Wilsons grounder went
through the Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckners legs. The Mets won
that game and went on to win the World Series in Game 7.
But 1987 was different. Baylor struggled through most of the season
until the Red Sox traded him to Minnesota, where he hit .286 in the
final month. More important, he hit .385 in the World Series against
the St. Louis Cardinals and tied Game 6 with a two-run home run. The
Twins won that game, 11-5, and also won Game 7.
Blyleven said that Baylors arrival on the team had brought an
injection of veteran guidance. Leadership is what he came to us
with, he said. We had a lot of young guys, and he brought his past,
as a great ballplayer, and the way he went about his business. He was
all about character and dignity.
Baylor played one more season, back in Oakland, before starting a
career as a manager (with the Rockies, where he was the National
League manager of the year in 1995, and the Cubs) and a coach for many
teams, most recently the Angels.
Baylor is survived by his wife, the former Rebecca Giles; his son, Don
Jr.; his brother, Doug; his sister, Connie; and two granddaughters.
His marriage to Jo Cash ended in divorce.
Baylors early years with the Orioles introduced him to the kangaroo
court, where teammates were fined for infractions of baseball
etiquette. With the Red Sox, he was chairman of the court. When Roger
Clemens struck out 20 Seattle Mariners in late April 1986, he fined
Clemens $5 for surrendering a single to the light-hitting Spike Owen.