Former MVP, manager of year and D-backs coach Don Baylor dies at 68
Donald Edward Baylor (June 28, 1949 – August 7, 2017)
Don Baylor, the 1979 AL MVP who served as Kirk Gibson's bench coach with the Arizona Diamondbacks from 2011 to 2013, died Monday at a hospital in Austin, Texas, after a 14-year battle with multiple myeloma. He was 68.
Baylor had a long, storied playing career with the Baltimore Orioles, Oakland A's, California Angels, New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox and then went on to become a successful major league manager, winning a manager of the year award with the Colorado Rockies in 1995.
Baylor played in all 162 games in 1979 and finished with career highs in homers (36), RBIs (139), hits (186) and runs (120) while helping the Angels to the American League West title. They went on to lose to Baltimore in the AL championship series.
He was the first manager of the expansion Rockies, leading them to a first playoff appearance in the franchise's third season. He managed Colorado for six years and later managed the Chicago Cubs from 2000 to 2002. His career managerial record was 627-689..
"Don passed from this earth with the same fierce dignity with which he played the game and lived his life," Baylor's wife, Rebecca, said in a statement released by the Angels.
When the stocky Baylor retired, he had been hit by pitches a then-record 267 times. He led the majors in that category seven times.
He was also known for speed as a younger player, including a career-high 52 steals with Oakland in 1976, and was a bruising baserunner who loved to break up double plays. He finished with 285 steals and 338 home runs in his 19-year major-league career.
In his final three seasons, Baylor went to three straight World Series from 1986-88, winning the title and hitting one of his four postseason homers in Minnesota's seven-game victory against St. Louis in 1987. He was on losing teams with Boston in '86 and Oakland in '88.
After his Cubs managerial tenure ended, Baylor stayed involved at the major-league level with coaching stints with the New York Mets, Seattle, Colorado, Arizona and most recently as hitting coach for the Angels.
Born June 28, 1949, in Austin, Baylor was a second-round pick by Baltimore in 1967 and chose baseball over a chance to be the first black football player at Texas. Two years later, the Longhorns became the last all-white team to win a national championship.
Baylor went to junior college before joining the Orioles organization, made his big league debut in 1970 and spent six years with Baltimore. After a year in the first of two stints with Oakland, Baylor played six seasons for the Angels.
Mostly a designated hitter but also an outfielder and first baseman, Baylor had at least 20 homers in three straight seasons for the New York Yankees before hitting 31 for the Red Sox in 1986. He was a career .260 hitter with 338 homers and 1,276 RBIs.
"Don's commitment to the game and its future also inspired him to play an instrumental role in helping the MLBPA establish itself as a bona fide union," players' union executive director Tony Clark said.