Former major league slugger and manager Don Baylor died Monday of cancer. He was 68.
“Don passed from this earth with the same fierce dignity with which he played the game and lived his life,” his wife, Rebecca, said in a statement.
Baylor, who played 19 seasons in his major league career and was the 1979 American League MVP, died at a hospital in his native Austin, Texas, after a 14-year struggle with multiple myeloma.
Baylor played for the Baltimore Orioles, Oakland Athletics, California Angels, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins. He was an All-Star and the MVP winner with the Angels in 1979 when he led the majors in RBIs (139) and runs (120).
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred expressed his condolences to the Baylor family.
“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.
Baylor reached the World Series three straight years at the end of his career from 1986 to 1988 and won the title with the Twins in 1987.
In his career, Baylor batted .260 with 338 home runs and 1,276 RBIs. He was known for crowding the plate and led the majors seven times in being hit by pitches during a season, drawing 267 in his career.
Following his playing career, Baylor became manager for the expansion Colorado Rockies for their inaugural season in 1993. During his six-year stint, he took the Rockies to their first postseason appearance in 1995 and later managed the Chicago Cubs for three seasons (2000-2002). He had a 627-689 overall record.
“As a manager, coach and friend, Don Baylor will forever be a part of the fabric of the Colorado Rockies,” the team wrote on Twitter.
The Cubs tweeted: “The Cubs mourn the passing of former manager Don Baylor. We send our condolences to his family and friends.”
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of former Yankee Don Baylor. He was a great man & we send our thoughts to his family & friends,” the Yankees wrote on Twitter.
Players also took to social media after hearing about the death of Baylor, who was simply called “Groove.”
“Saddened to hear I’ve lost another teammate in Don Baylor, fierce competitor and huge piece of the puzzle in 86, RIP Groove,” Hall of Famer Wade Boggs wrote on Twitter, referring to when they played for the Red Sox.
“Don Baylor was a really good ballplayer and an excellent manager. Baseball and all those who knew him, lost an amazing man today. #RIP,” Pete Rose tweeted.
“Anyone would be hard pressed to find a more solid, upstanding man & friend in their life,” Hall of Famer Dave Winfield tweeted.
MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark issued a statement Monday on the deaths of Baylor and Darren Daulton, the former Philadelphia Phillies All-Star who died Sunday at the age of 55. “Words cannot express the sadness we feel today, as cancer claims two more of the baseball-playing fraternity’s proudest and strongest members,” Clark said. “Darren Daulton and Don Baylor will be deeply missed by the entire baseball community. During their playing careers and beyond, both Darren and Don selflessly helped generations of young players transition from wide-eyed rookies into successful Major Leaguers. Don’s commitment to the game and its future also inspired him to play an instrumental role in helping the MLBPA establish itself as a bona-fide union. Our thoughts and prayers are with Darren’s and Don’s families, friends and legions of fans.”
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