Don Baylor, a 19-year Major League veteran, American League All-Star, three-time Silver Slugger and later, a Manager of the Year died early Monday at 68. The cause was cancer.
Baylor started his big league career in 1970 with six seasons for the Orioles. After one season with the Athletics he played six years with the California Angels where, in 1979, he was both an All-Star and league MVP, slashing .296 AVG/.371 OBP/.530 SLG with 31 home run, 71 walks, 139 RBI, and 51 strikeouts.
Baylor with Red Sox
Known on the field for his might and off the field for his warmth, Baylor was a Red Sox for 268 games from 1986-87, the result of a rare trade with the Yankees for Mike Easler.
In his first season with the Sox, Baylor struck out a career-high 111 times but also belted 31 home runs (6th most in the AL) and knocked in 94 RBI. All the while, he functioned as the clubhouse Chief Justice, gleefully meting out fines—and even double fines, “if their name is Steve Lyons“—for player infractions.
Longtime Sox fans will, no doubt, recall Baylor’s dramatic 9th inning, two-run home run in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series, helping to make possible Boston’s march to the 1986 World Series.
Overall with the Red Sox, Baylor slashed .238/.348/.426 with 47 home runs and 151 RBI.
Baylor retired after the 1988 season with 338 career home runs, the 100th-most for all time. He was also hit-by-pitch 267 times, second-most after Craig Biggio since 1901.
Manager of the Year
After coaching hitting with the Brewers and Cardinals, Baylor became the first manager of the Colorado Rockies, 1993-99, and was National League Manager of the Year in 1995. Later, he managed the Cubs from 2000-02. He finished his managerial career at 627-689 (.476) but returned to Colorado as a hitting coach in 2009-10.
In 1986 with the Sox, Baylor told Sports Illustrated that he would like to be remembered “as a guy who played his hardest from day one to the end and was honest with every guy I played with.”
Baylor is survived by his wife Rebecca, son Don Jr., and two granddaughters.
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