Former American League MVP and National League Manager of the Year Don Baylor has passed away at the age of 68 due to a lengthy battle with multiple myeloma, Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman reports.
Revered by many for his charisma and kindness off the field, Baylor was also a force to be reckoned with at the plate in a terrific 19-year career as a player. A three-time winner of a Silver Slugger Award and an American League All-Star, Baylor hit .260/.342/.436 over the life of a career that was highlighted by Most Valuable Player honors as a member of the 1979 California Angels. That year, the slugger posted a superlative .296/.371/.530 batting line with 36 homers, 22 stolen bases, 120 runs scored and 139 runs batted in.
Baylor helped a team to the postseason on seven different occasions and, in the waning stages of his career, was traded from the Red Sox to the Twins for the stretch run in 1987. He’d go on to collect seven hits in 18 at-bats during the playoffs that season, including a game-tying two-run homer in Game 6 of the World Series. Minnesota would rally for six more runs following that key hit, and the Twins ultimately rode that momentum to a Game 7 victory and a World Series championship.
Following his playing days, Baylor became the first manager in Colorado Rockies history in their inaugural 1993 season. By the time the strike-shortened 1995 campaign rolled around, Baylor’s Rockies finished the season with a 77-67 record, leading to the first postseason appearance in franchise history as well as NL Manager of the Year honors for Baylor. That marked the first of three straight winning seasons for Baylor, who also later spent three years managing the Cubs (2000-02). Baylor’s time in the dugout would continue for more than a decade, as he also served as a bench coach for the Mets and a hitting coach for the Braves, Mariners, Rockies, Diamondbacks and Angels.
MLBTR joins those throughout the baseball world in mourning the loss of Baylor. Our condolences go out to his family and loved ones as well as the countless teammates, journalists and fans whose lives were bettered by Baylor’s presence both on and off the field.