CaliSports News

Remembering Don Baylor

Intimidating, Powerful, Strong, Tough these were several words to describe one of the kindest, gentlest player to have ever played the game of baseball. Don Baylor passed away yesterday at the age of 68 from cancer.

Baylor played for six teams (Baltimore, Oakland, *California, New York Yankees, Boston, and Minnesota) in his 19-year career. He was the first player in MLB history to play in the World Series in three-straight years with three different teams. In 1987, he was the missing piece and his veteran presence was the key to the Minnesota Twins winning their first world
championship. At the time of his retirement, Baylor held the distinction of having the most times being hit by a pitch (267).

On November 16, 1976, Baylor signed as a free agent with the then California Angels. In 1979, Baylor batted .296 with 36 homers and 139 RBI to lead the Angels to the Western Division title. His numbers earned him his only MVP award of his great career. The team reached the American League Championship
Series against the Baltimore Orioles, but the Angels lost the series, 3-1 to the Orioles. The ’79 Angels were led by manager Jim Fregosi which included Hall Of Famers Nolan Ryan and Rod Carew.

His death and influence impacted 14 of the 30 teams in baseball. Baylor’s first managerial assignment was with the expansion Colorado Rockies in 1993. After two years, Baylor turned the Rockies from a rag-tag bunch of misfits into a playoff contender with some notable names like Larry Walker, Craig Counsell, Joe Giraldi, Andres Galarraga, Walt Weiss, and Vinny Castilla.

There will be many great things said about Don Baylor over this time, but one of the most notable was that he was in the game of baseball for over 45 years, which included years with many Hall Of Fame players managers and coaches. From Earl Weaver in 1970 as a rookie to his final season in Oakland with the Bash Brothers Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco.

Hopefully one day Baylor’s accomplishments and contribution to the game of baseball should be considered for Cooperstown. Don Baylor lived a very fierce life as a hard, demanding and very competitive player on the field but as a nice and gentle giant off the field. The game of baseball will truly Don Baylor’s presence.

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