Don Bay­lor, former MVP and man­ager, dies at 68

Burly slug­ger spent nearly 50 years in base­ball

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OBITUARIES -

Don Bay­lor, the burly slug­ger who once held the Ma­jor League Base­ball record for be­ing hit a pitch and later guided the ex­pan­sion Colorado Rock­ies to the play­offs for the first time as man­ager of the year, died Mon­day of can­cer. He was 68.

The 1979 Amer­i­can League MVP died in his home­town of Austin, Texas, af­ter a 14-year bat­tle with mul­ti­ple myeloma, Bay­lor’s fam­ily said in a state­ment re­leased by the An­gels, the fran­chise for which he played more than 800 games.

“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.

Bay­lor played in all 162 games for the Cal­i­for­nia An­gels in 1979 and led the ma­jors with ca­reer bests of 139 RBIs and 120 runs. He also had ca­reer highs in homers (36) and hits (186) for the Amer­i­can League West champs, who lost to Bal­ti­more in the AL Cham­pi­onship Se­ries.

When the stocky Bay­lor re­tired, he had been hit by pitches a then-record 267 times, and 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.

In his fi­nal three sea­sons, Bay­lor went to three straight World Se­ries from 1986-88, win­ning the ti­tle and hit­ting one of his four post-sea­son 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.

“Don used power and speed to earn Amer­i­can League MVP hon­ours with the An­gels in 1979 and con­trib­uted to three straight pen­nant win­ners in a great 19-year ma­jor league ca­reer,” Com­mis­sioner Rob Man­fred said.

Bay­lor was the first man­ager for the Rock­ies, lead­ing them to his only play­off ap­pear­ance as a man­ager in the fran­chise’s third sea­son in 1995. Colorado lost to At­lanta in four games in an NL Di­vi­sion Se­ries.

Bay­lor spent six years with Colorado and two-plus sea­sons as man­ager of the Chicago Cubs, from 2000-02. His ca­reer record was 627-689. He was most re­cently the hit­ting coach for the An­gels and spent nearly 50 years in pro base­ball.

“Through­out stints with 14 dif­fer­ent ma­jor league teams as a player, coach or man­ager, Don’s rep­u­ta­tion as a gentle­man al­ways pre­ceded him,” Man­fred said.

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.

. 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.

AP PHOTO

In this April 23, 2015, file photo, Los An­ge­les An­gels’ Don Bay­lor poses for a photo be­fore a base­ball game against the Oak­land Ath­let­ics, in Ana­heim, Calif.

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