Don Baylor had the opportunity to play and coach in the MLB. As a player, he spent 19 seasons in the league playing for six different teams. He had a lot of success during his playing career. Baylor was known as a power hitter at the plate who loved to crowd the plate.
Baylor was someone that people had a lot of respect for as a player and as a coach. In 2017 he died at the age of 68, and many people around the game of baseball remembered the career he had.
Don Baylor was fearless at the plate during his career
The Baltimore Orioles selected Baylor in the second round of the 1967 MLB draft. He spent his first six seasons in Baltimore. During the 1973 season, he hit .286 and hit 11 home runs. He also led the league in hit by pitches with 13. At the plate, Baylor was not afraid to get hit by a pitch, no matter how fast it was coming. He led the league twice in hit by pitches during his time in Baltimore.
After playing with the Orioles, Baylor was traded to the Oakland Athletics. In his first and only season with the Athletics, he led the league in hit by pitches once again with 20. He quickly became known as a batter that stood as close to the plate as he possibly could. Pitchers had difficulty pitching inside against Baylor because if they were off by an inch, the ball hit him. Baylor remained in California after one season with the Athletics and played for the California Angels. He had his best season as a member of the Angels. During the 1979 season, he made his only All-Star team and led the American League with 139 RBIs and 120 runs. He also was named the AL MVP that season.
After the 1979 season, Baylor continued to have success throughout his career. He headed to the east coast after his time with the Angels and played for the New York Yankees. As a member of the Yankees, he won two Silver Slugger awards and led the league in hit by pitches twice. Baylor finished his career playing for the Boston Red Sox, the Minnesota Twins, and had a second stint with the Athletics. He won his third Silver Slugger award with the Red Sox. Baylor led the league in hit by pitches for four straight seasons from 1984 to 1987 and won a World Series title with the Twins.
Don Baylor continued to be involved in baseball as a coach and manager
After Baylor retired from baseball, he was a hitting coach for the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals. Baylor was named the manager of the Colorado Rockies, and he led the team from 1993 to 1998. During the 1995 season, the Rockies posted their first winning season with a record of 77-67 and made the postseason as a wildcard team. That season Baylor won the National League Manager of the Year award.
After the 1998 season, he was fired and finished with a managerial record of 440-469. His second stint as a manager came in 2000 when he was named the Chicago Cubs manager. He held that position until 2002 and finished with a record of 187-220. Those were the only two teams that he managed, and he spent the majority of his time after playing as a hitting coach.
Don Baylor lost his life after struggling with multiple myeloma
In 2003, while he was serving as the hitting coach for the New York Mets, he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Multiple myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells, and Baylor fought it for as long as he could. When he lost his life in 2017, the MLB took his death to heart.
When Baylor passed, the MLB released a statement about Baylor’s death. “Don used power and speed to earn American League MVP honors with the Angels in 1979 and contributed to three straight pennant winners in a great 19-year Major League career,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said. “He then became the first manager in Rockies history, guiding them to their first postseason in just their third year of play. Throughout stints with 14 different Major League teams as a player, coach, or manager, Don’s reputation as a gentleman always preceded him.”
Baylor touched many lives as a player, coach, and manager. A lot in the baseball community will miss him.