Don Baylor oozed greatness. Attending high school in his native Austin, Texas, Baylor excelled at football and baseball. He was the first African-American in Stephen A. Austin High School’s athletic department. He could have been the first African-American to play for Daryl K. Royal at the University of Texas, but he chose to chase the dream of baseball instead. To pursue this dream, he enrolled at Blinn Junior College in Brenham, Texas. In 1967, the Baltimore Orioles drafted him with the 39th overall pick of the draft. He spent the better part of the next five decades in and around the sport and business of baseball. Unfortunately, a fight with multiple myeloma over the last 14 years took his life on the morning of August 7, 2017. He was 68 years old.
In Memorium: Don Baylor
Baylor is survived by his wife, Rebecca Baylor, his son Don Baylor, Jr, and two granddaughters.
Baylor made his major league debut as a September call-up on September 18, 1970. He drew the start in centerfield, and went two for three with three RBI against the Cleveland Indians. He played one game with the big league team in 1971, snd after that he never saw another stint in the minors.
Before the 1976 season, the Orioles sent Baylor to the Oakland Athletics as part of the trade that brought Reggie Jackson to Baltimore. He played the one year with Oakland, before signing with the California Angels. A six-year stint with the Angels was followed by a contract with the New York Yankees.
World Series Distinction
Prior to the 1986 season, the Yankees put in motion a chain of events that would give Baylor a dubious distinction. Trading him to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Mike Easler, Baylor appeared in the 1986 World Series with the Red Sox, losing to the New York Mets. In September of 1987, the Red Sox traded him to the Minnesota Twins for a player to be named later. As such, he appeared in and helped win the 1987 World Series with the Minnesota Twins. The Twins released him in December of 1987, and he spent the 1988 season with the Oakland Athletics.
The Athletics appeared in the 1988 series, and ultimately lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Due to that, he is one of two players who played in three consecutive World Series with three different teams. Eric Hinske repeated the feat in 2007, 2008, and 2009 – winning the bookends and losing the middle.
Coaching and Managerial Career
Baylor worked as a hitting coach after retiring following the 1988 World Series. He managed the Colorado Rockies from their inception in 1993 until 1998, leading them to the best five year start of any expansion team, 440 wins and 469 losses. Baylor further would manage the Chicago Cubs from 2000 to 2002, going 187 and 220 with the Cubs. He owns a career managerial record of 627 wins and 689 losses with a .476 winning percentage. He also took the Rockies to their first ever post-season, winning only one of four games. After leaving the Cubs, he spent time as the bench coach with the Mets, before returning to his roots as a hitting coach. He ended his career with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, leaving the team following the 2015 season.
On behalf of the entire Last Word On Sports team, I would offer my sincerest condolences to the Baylor family as they go through this difficult time.
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