Former MLB player and manager Don Baylor - a strong clubhouse leader in the game, a pioneer outside it and gentleman in both - died on Monday after a long battle with multiple myeloma, his son confirmed to the Austin American-Statesman. He was 68.
Baylor, a native of Austin, was one of the first African Americans to attend Stephen F. Austin High School and the first to play baseball and football at the school. He could have become the first black player in University of Texas football history, the American-Statesman noted, had he not turned down legendary coach Darrell Royal's scholarship offer to pursue a career in baseball.
That turned out to be a good decision.
He would go on to play 19 seasons in the majors beginning in 1970, most notably with the Baltimore Orioles and California Angels, a power-hitter known for crowding the plate and daring pitchers to come inside. They frequently obliged, leading to his being hit by pitches a then-record 267 times and leading the league in HBPs eight times.
Baylor won the 1979 AL MVP award while with the Angels after leading the league with 139 RBIs and 120 runs, the same year he earned his one All-Star Game appearance.
He also played for the Oakland A's, New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox. A three-time Silver Slugger, he batted .260 for his career, hitting 338 home runs and driving in 1,276 runs. He was part of the Twins' 1987 World Series-winning team, batting .385/.467/.615 in a five-game series victory over the St Louis Cardinals.
After his playing career, he became the first manager in the Colorado Rockies' history, going 440-469 from 1993-98. He also managed the Cubs from 2000-02, going 187-220.