Don Edward Baylor (June 28, 1949 – August 7, 2017) was an American professional baseball player and manager. During his 19 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB), Baylor was a power hitter known for crowding the plate and was a first baseman, left fielder, and designated hitter. He played for six different American League (AL) teams, primarily the Baltimore Orioles and California Angels, but he also played for the Oakland Athletics, New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins, and Boston Red Sox. In 1979, Baylor was an All-Star and won the AL Most Valuable Player Award. He won three Silver Slugger Awards, the Roberto Clemente Award, and was a member of the 1987 World Series champion Minnesota Twins.
After his playing career, Baylor managed the expansion Colorado Rockies for six years and the Chicago Cubs for three seasons. He was named NL Manager of the Year in 1995 and was inducted into the Angels Hall of Fame.
Born in Austin, Texas, Baylor grew up in Clarksville. He graduated from Stephen F. Austin High School. After being one of three African Americans to integrate Texas public schools when he was in junior high school, Baylor starred in baseball and football at Austin High, where he was the first African American to play athletics at that school. Baylor was offered a scholarship to play college football for the Texas Longhorns of the University of Texas, which would have made him the first African American to play football at Texas. He opted to pursue a baseball career, enrolling at Blinn Junior College in Brenham, Texas.
The Baltimore Orioles selected Baylor in the second round of the 1967 MLB draft. He received a $7,500 signing bonus from the Orioles. In 1970, he led the league with 34 doubles, 15 triples, 127 runs, and 140 games-played while playing for Rochester. The following year, he again led the league in doubles with 31 for Rochester. Baylor played for the Orioles from 1970 to 1975. Before the 1976 season, the Orioles traded him with Paul Mitchell and Mike Torrez to the Oakland Athletics for Reggie Jackson, Ken Holtzman, and Bill VanBommell.
In 1977, Baylor signed with the California Angels as a free agent. He led the American League (AL) with 139 runs batted in (RBIs) and 120 runs in 1979, and he was an AL All-Star. He won the AL's MVP award and led the Angels to their first-ever AL Western Division title. Baylor signed with the New York Yankees in 1983. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox for Mike Easler in 1986.
While a member of the Red Sox, Baylor delivered a key hit in the 1986 American League Championship Series when he hit a two-run home run with two outs in the top of the ninth inning during game four against the California Angels. At the time, the Angels led the series three games to one and were one out away from their first ALCS victory. The Red Sox went on to win the game and eventually the ALCS, denying the Angels their first trip to the World Series. Al Michaels, broadcasting the game for ABC, called it the greatest baseball game he had ever seen.
In 1987, he was traded to the Minnesota Twins for a player to be named later (Enrique Rios). He signed with the Athletics for 1988, his final season as a player.
Baylor reached the World Series three times in his career, in consecutive years with three different teams. Baylor played in the World Series with the Red Sox in 1986, the Twins in 1987, and the A's in 1988, and he was on the winning side in 1987. Baylor is one of two players in history to accomplish this feat; Eric Hinske is the other. Baylor was a power hitter known for crowding the plate. He set the Red Sox team record for most hit by pitches in a season (35 in 1986); in his career, he was hit by pitches 267 times, fourth-most all time. Baylor retired with 285 stolen bases, 2,135 hits, and 338 home runs.
Coaching and managerial career
After retiring as a player, Baylor served as a hitting coach for the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals until he was named the manager of the expansion Colorado Rockies. He led the team for six years from 1993 to 1998. The Rockies posted their first winning record (77–67) in 1995 and made the postseason as the wildcard team. As a result, Baylor won the National League Manager of the Year Award.
After the 1998 season, Baylor was fired. He finished his Rockies managerial career with a regular season record of 440–469 and a post–season record of 1–3. He became the hitting coach for the Atlanta Braves in 1999 and was hired to manage the Chicago Cubs in 2000, a job he held through the 2002 season. He had a record of 187–220 with the Cubs. From 2003 to 2004, he served as the bench coach for the New York Mets. He spent the 2005 season with the Seattle Mariners as hitting coach under manager Mike Hargrove and was as a fill-in analyst for MASN in 2007 for Washington Nationals broadcasts.
Baylor served as hitting coach for the Colorado Rockies during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Baylor was replaced by Carney Lansford after the Rockies hit a franchise-low .226 on the road during the 2010 season. Baylor was offered a special assistant position to remain with Colorado but turned it down.
Baylor agreed on a two-year contract to become hitting coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. He was hired by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim as their hitting coach for the 2014 season. On March 31, 2014, Baylor suffered a fracture to his right femur while catching the ceremonial first pitch of the 2014 season, thrown by Vladimir Guerrero. On April 1, 2014, he had surgery to have a plate and screws inserted into his leg. On October 13, 2015, the Angels announced that Baylor would not return as the team hitting coach in 2016.
Baylor was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2003. He died on August 7, 2017, at the age of 68.
- List of Major League Baseball career home run leaders
- List of Major League Baseball career hits leaders
- List of Major League Baseball career runs scored leaders
- List of Major League Baseball career runs batted in leaders
- List of Major League Baseball career stolen bases leaders
- List of Major League Baseball annual runs batted in leaders
- List of Major League Baseball annual runs scored leaders
- List of St. Louis Cardinals coaches