The Boston Red Sox mourn the loss of Don Baylor, a key member of the 1986 American League Champion Red Sox team and a universally respected figure in the Major League Baseball community.Baylor, a native of Austin, Texas, was 68. His son confirmed his death to the Austin-American Statesman. He
The Boston Red Sox mourn the loss of Don Baylor, a key member of the 1986 American League Champion Red Sox team and a universally respected figure in the Major League Baseball community.
Baylor, a native of Austin, Texas, was 68. His son confirmed his death to the Austin-American Statesman. He had been battling multiple myeloma.
"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, acquired by the Red Sox in a trade with the New York Yankees just before the start of the '86 season, played in a team-leading 160 games, including 143 starts as the team's designated hitter. He led the club with 31 home runs, batting .238 (139-for-585) with 23 doubles and 94 RBI and reaching base via hit-by-pitch an American League-record 35 times.
The Red Sox were two outs away from playoff elimination in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series when Baylor hit a two-run home run off California Angels starter Mike Witt, setting the stage for Dave Henderson's go-ahead two-run home run in a game the Sox ultimately won in 11 innings, 7-6. The Red Sox went on to win the series in seven games, with Baylor batting .346. The Sox would lose the World Series in seven games to the New York Mets. Baylor appeared in four games, batting .182.
Beyond his contributions on the field, Baylor was a commanding presence in the Red Sox clubhouse. Teammates fondly recall the "kangaroo court" Baylor presided over, assessing fines for whatever he deemed a transgression. In Roger Clemens' 20-strikeout game on April 29, for example, Baylor fined Clemens $5 for giving up a single to Spike Owen of the Seattle Mariners on an 0-and-2 pitch.
Baylor returned in 1987 and reached a milestone on June 28, his 38th birthday, when he was struck by a pitch for a then-record 244th time (Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, hit 285 times, is the current modern-day record-holder).
The Minnesota Twins, bidding for a playoff spot, acquired Baylor for the final month of the 1987 season, and he responded by hitting .286, helping the Twins to their first playoff berth in 17 years. He batted .385 in the World Series that season, including a game-tying home run off John Tudor of the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6.
The American League Most Valuable Player for the California Angels in 1979, when he also made his only All-Star appearance, Baylor played 19 seasons in the major leagues. He played for six teams: the Orioles (1970-75), Athletics (1976), Angels (1977-82), Yankees (1983-85), Red Sox (1986-87), and Twins (1987). He returned to the Athletics in 1988 before retiring at the age of 39.
He later became the inaugural manager of the expansion Colorado Rockies (1993-1998), winning National League Manager of the Year honors in 1995, and also managed parts of three seasons for the Chicago Cubs (2000-2002). He also served as a hitting coach for six teams: the Brewers (1990-91), Cardinals (1992), Braves (1999), Rockies (2001-10), Diamondbacks (2011-12), and Angels (2013-15).