The first man to don the purple pinstripes as manager of the Colorado Rockies, Don Baylor, has passed away at the age of 68, the Austin American-Statesman reported Monday morning. Baylor, a native of Austin, Texas, succumbed after a lengthy battle with multiple myeloma.
A 19-year veteran of the Major Leagues, Baylor played with six different clubs and amassed 267 hit-by-pitches – good for fourth all-time. Primarily a designated hitter, he hit 338 home runs in his career and was voted the AL MVP in 1979 with the California Angels. That season he played all 162 games and drove in 139 runs, scoring 120. He reached the World Series three times in his career, in consecutive years with three different teams (one of two players in history to accomplish the feat) – the Red Sox in 1986, the Twins in 1987, and the A’s in 1988.
After his playing career, he was a hitting coach for Milwaukee and St. Louis before being named the first manager is Rockies history. Baylor led the Rockies for six seasons, earning NL Manager of the Year in 1995 when he led Colorado to its first winning season and postseason appearance. By 1997, the Rockies under Baylor’s leadership had the best five-year record (363-384) of any expansion club in MLB history. His final record as Rockies manager was 440-469 and 1-3 in the postseason.
He would later serve as manager for the Chicago Cubs from 2000-02 and returned to the Rockies as hitting coach from 2009-10. He also coached with the Braves, Mets, Mariners, Diamondbacks and Angels after leaving the Cubs.
Baylor played his college baseball at Blinn Junior College in Texas and was drafted in the second round of the 1967 amateur draft by Baltimore.
According to the American-Statesman, Baylor was one of the first African-Americans to attend Austin High School school and the very first to play baseball and football for the school.