Don Baylor, the 1979 American League MVP, passed away on August 7, 2017 after an extensive battle with cancer. He was 68 years old. A power hitter known for his ability to crowd the plate, Baylor spent time playing for the Baltimore Orioles, Oakland Athletics, California Angels, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins over his 19-year playing career.
Baylor was born in Austin, Texas, and was one of three African-Americans to integrate Texas public schools when he was in junior high. He played both baseball and football in high school and was offered a scholarship to play football at the University of Texas, which he turned down to pursue his baseball career instead. He was drafted in the second round of the ’67 draft by the Orioles, and made his big league debut in 1970 with Baltimore.
Baylor led the AL with 139 RBIs and 120 runs in 1979, the year in which he was named both an All-Star and the league MVP. He made three consecutive World Series appearances between 1986 and 1988, winning the title in ’87 with the Twins. Other career highlights included three Silver Slugger Awards and the Roberto Clemente Award.
Following his retirement as a player, Baylor was the hitting coach for both the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals before being named the manager of the Colorado Rockies in 1993. He took the Rockies to their first winning record and first postseason appearance as the wildcard team in 1995, and was accordingly named the NL Manager of the Year for that season. He later acted as the hitting coach for the Atlanta Braves before being named the manager for the Chicago Cubs from 2000-2002; Baylor also later served as the bench coach for the New York Mets, the hitting coach for the Seattle Mariners, the Rockies, the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Angels.
According to his family, he had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma 14 years ago; he is survived by his wife, his son, and two granddaughters.