Former MVP Don Baylor, 68, Dies of Cancer 0

Don Baylor, who established himself as both a successful player and manager, died on Monday at the age of 68. According to a statement released by his wife, Rebecca, Baylor had been battling cancer for nearly 14-years, and eventually succumb to the disease.

In a statement released by his wife, Rebecca explained of her husband’s death that he had “passed from this earth with the same fierce dignity with which he played the game and lived his life.”

Before making the diamond his work place, Baylor had starred at the University of Texas as a football player, becoming the first black player to play for the Longhorns. He also was a star in baseball and was selected in the second round of the 1967 MLB draft by the Baltimore Orioles.

Don Baylor had a very successful career on the diamond. He played 19-seasons for the Baltimore Orioles, Oakland Athletics, Los Angeles Angels, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Minnesota Twins. In 1979, while playing for the then California Angels, Baylor hit .296 and led the American League in runs scored (120) and RBI (139). He also hit a career high 36-home runs, and was chosen as the American League’s Most Valuable Player.

In 1987, he was acquired by the Minnesota Twins at the trade deadline. Baylor hit .286 in 20-games and helped the Twins win their first World Series title.

Baylor retired in 1988, posting a career batting average of .260 with 338-homers and 1,276 RBI.

After retiring, the former MVP spent time as the hitting coach for the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals. In 1993, the Colorado Rockies were added as an expansion team and he became the team’s first skipper.

In 1995, the Rockies went 77-67, earning a trip to the post-season where they were defeated in five-games by the Atlanta Braves. Colorado set a record that season, becoming the first team to reach the post-season in their fourth season in existence. The Arizona Diamondbacks would later break that record, reaching the playoffs in their third seasons.

In 1998, the Rockies struggled after the all-star break and Baylor’s contract was not renewed. He finished with a 440-469 record.

The following season Don Baylor was named as the hitting coach of the Atlanta Braves. He would remain in that post for just one season, before the Chicago Cubs hired him to be their new manager. Baylor spent three seasons in the Windy City, posting a 187-220 record.

In 2003, he was hired as the hitting coach by the New York Mets. He spent two seasons in that position before moving to the Seattle Mariners to become their hitting instructor.

In 2009, Baylor returned to the Colorado Rockies, taking the position of hitting coach, where he served for two seasons. Following a disappointing 2010 season, Baylor moved onto the Arizona Diamondbacks, serving at the same position he had filled for the Rockies. After three seasons, he returned to the place of his greatest glory, joining the Los Angeles Angels as their hitting instructor. He served there for three seasons before retiring. ‘

Don Baylor died after a 14-year battle with myeloma. He leaves behind a wife and a son, Don, Jr.