One generation might know him as a bit of a slugger and the 1979 American League MVP, while another might know him as a manager and coach.
Either way, Don Baylor was a man who lived his life in baseball — his career that spanned from the 1960s until 2015. He died on Monday at age 68 after a battle with multiple myeloma.
“Don Baylor: 14 teams as player, coach and manager. Countless lives influenced. There’s a hole in the universe, its expanse without end,” said J.G. Taylor Spink Award-winner Claire Smith on Twitter. “Deepest love and condolences to Becky Baylor and the Baylor family who are mourning a man whose heart was as big as all of Texas.”
Baylor played on three World Series teams during his 19-year career — all at the end — with the Boston Red Sox in 1986, Minnesota Twins in 1987 and Oakland A’s in 1988. After that loss with the A’s, he retired with 2,135 hits, a .260 average, 338 home runs and 1,276 RBI. In 1993 he became the first manager in Colorado Rockies history, won 1995 Manager of the Year honors, and then managed the Chicago Cubs for three seasons before returning to the coaching ranks. He went 627-689 in nine seasons. Since then he had worked for the Mets, Mariners, Diamondbacks and Angels as a hitting coach.
When it comes to cardboard, Baylor has a modest amount of cardboard available — fewer than 400 different cards and fewer than 50 certified autographs. For years, though, he signed through-the-mail for collectors. His Rookie Cards appear in the 1971 Topps and 1971 O-Pee-Chee sets alongside another future manager, Dusty Baker. He also appears on a 1972 Topps Rookie Stars card alongside player-turned-manager, Johnny Oates. (That one is Oates’ RC.)
His earliest autos came in the 2000 Fleer Greats of the Game release and he appeared in a number of products from Donruss/Playoff, TRISTAR, Upper Deck, Topps and Fleer. His last autographs signed in any kind of volume came four years ago when he appeared in 2013 Topps Archives and 2013 Topps.
Baylor also showed prowess on the football field and could have been a social pioneer had things gone differently in the history books. According to his home-town Austin American-Statesman, he would have been the first black player in University of Texas Longhorns football history had he taken a scholarship in the 1960s. Instead, he opted for baseball.
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