Donald Edward Baylor (born June 28, 1949) is a Major League Baseball coach. He is currently the hitting coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks and is a former player and manager. During his 19-year playing career, he was a power hitter who played as a first baseman, outfielder, and designated hitter. He played for six different American League teams, primarily the Baltimore Orioles and California Angels. He later managed the expansion Colorado Rockies for six years and the Chicago Cubs for three seasons.
Born in Austin, Texas, Baylor graduated from Austin High School. He starred in both baseball and football at Austin High, and was offered a scholarship to play football at The University of Texas by Longhorns coach Darrell Royal, which would have made him the first African American to play football at Texas. He opted to pursue a baseball career, enrolling at Blinn Junior College in Brenham, Texas.
He was drafted in the second round of the 1967 amateur draft by Baltimore. He played for the Orioles from 1970-1975. Before the 1976 season, the Orioles traded Baylor with Paul Mitchell and Mike Torrez to the Oakland Athletics for Reggie Jackson, Ken Holtzman, and Bill VanBommell. He signed with the California Angels as a free agent in 1977, with the New York Yankees in 1983 and the Boston Red Sox in 1986. In 1987, he was traded to the Minnesota Twins for a player to be named later. He signed with the Athletics for 1988, his final season as a player.
In 1979, he led the American League with 139 RBIs and 120 runs and was an AL All-Star. He won the AL's MVP award and led the Angels to their first AL Western Division title ever. 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 this feat, Eric Hinske is the other)—the Red Sox in 1986, the Twins in 1987, and the A's in 1988—and was on the winning side in 1987. Baylor was a power hitter known for crowding the plate. He set the Red Sox' team record for most Hit by Pitches in a season (35 in 1986); in his career, he was hit by pitches 267 times, 4th most all time. Baylor retired with 285 stolen bases, 2,135 hits, and 338 home runs.
In the book Planet of the Umps, umpire Ken Kaiser said the hardest ball he ever saw hit was by Don Baylor. Kaiser said the ball glanced off the third baseman's glove and then sailed over the left field wall for a home run.
Coaching and managing career
After retiring as a player, Baylor served as a hitting coach for the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals until he was named the manager of the expansion Colorado Rockies. He led the team for six years from 1993-98. The Rockies posted their first winning record (77-67) in 1995 and made the postseason as the wildcard team, and as a result, Baylor won the National League Manager of the Year Award. By 1997, the Rockies under Baylor's leadership had the best five-year record (363-384) of any expansion club in MLB history.
After a subpar 1998 season, Baylor was released. He became the hitting coach for the Atlanta Braves in 1999 and was hired to manage the Chicago Cubs in 2000 and managed through 2002. From 2003 to 2004, he served as the bench coach for the New York Mets. He spent the 2005 season with the Seattle Mariners as hitting coach for manager Mike Hargrove, and was as a fill-in analyst for MASN in 2007 on Nationals broadcasts.
Baylor served as hitting coach for the Colorado Rockies during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Baylor was replaced by Carney Lansford after the Rockies hit a franchise-low .226 on the road during the 2010 season. Baylor was offered a special assistant position to remain with Colorado but turned it down.
On October 25, 2010, Baylor agreed on a two-year contract to become hitting coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
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