Saturday, June 27, 2009

1976 Topps #125 - Don Baylor

  • Don Baylor played major league baseball for several teams from 1970 to 1988. He started out in the Baltimore Orioles organization. Don started off as an 18 year old in the rookie league in 1967. In just about every stop (except for a premature 1968 AAA stint when he was 19) Don hit over .300. His power started to develop in 1970--Don hit over 20 homers for AAA Rochester both in 1970 and 1971.
  • Baylor had September call-ups in 1970 and 1971. He came up to the big leagues to stay in 1972. Don batted .253 in 104 games and also hit 11 home runs -- the first of 15 seasons he would be in double figures in HR. Baylor stole 24 bases, which was the first of eight straight seasons of 20 or more stolen bases.
  • Don batted .286 with 11 homers in 118 games in 1973. He had similar seasons in 1974 and 1975, but he played in more games in those two years. Right before the 1976 season Baylor was traded with Mike Torrez to the Oakland A's in a big trade that sent Reggie Jackson and Ken Holtzman to the Orioles. Don played in 157 games for the A's in 1976 and batted .247 with 15 homers and a career-high 52 stolen bases.
  • After the 1976 season Baylor became a free agent and signed with the California Angels. Don batted .251 with 25 homers in 1977, but improved his power output in 1978 with 34 home runs.
  • Everything came together for Don Baylor in 1979. He was selected to the AL All Star Team and was the Most Valuable Player. Don batted .296 with 36 home runs and a league-leading 139 RBI. He also led the league with 120 runs scored. Baylor batted only .188 in the American League Championship against his old Baltimore team.
  • Baylor was injured in 1980 and played in only 90 games. He batted .250 and hit only five home runs. Don batted .239 with 17 homers in the strike-shortened 1981 season. In 1982 the Angels won the AL West. Don helped by batting .263 with 24 homers and 93 RBI.
  • After the 1982 season he left as a free agent and signed with the New York Yankees. He spent three seasons (mostly as a DH) with the Yankees and had home run totals of 21, 27, and 23. Don was traded to the Boston Red Sox for Mike Easler before the 1986 season. Baylor hit 31 homers for the Red Sox in 1986 and he made it to his first World Series. Don played for the Red Sox for most of the 1987 season. The Minnesota Twins traded for him for their stretch run and he made it to another World Series. The Twins released him after the season and Baylor signed with the Oakland A's for his final season. He made it to the World Series again, making him the only major leaguer to appear in a World Series in three consecutive years for three different teams.
  • Don led the league in hit by pitches eight times, and he retired with the 4th most hit by pitches of all time (267). He hit 338 home runs in his career.
  • Baylor served as the hitting coach of the Milwaukee Brewers and the St. Louis Cardinals after his playing career. He became the manager of the expansion Colorado Rockies in 1993 and managed them through the 1998 season. The Rockies made the playoffs in 1995 and Baylor won the Manager of the Year award.
  • Don was the hitting coach of the Atlanta Braves in 1999 and then he was named the manager of the Chicago Cubs in 2000. He managed the Cubs through the 2002 season and then was the bench coach for the New York Mets in 2003 and 2004 and the hitting coach of the Seattle Mariners in 2005. Don is now the hitting coach for the Rockies. Here is an October 2008 article from the New York Times about Baylor's future aspirations.
  • Merv Rettenmund, California coach, on weak-throwing star, Don Baylor: "He's the guts of the Angels, our triple threat. He can hit, run and lob." (quoted in Sports Illustrated April 1980)

1 comment:

  1. The factoid about Pete Rose on that card is pretty amazing. 771 plate appearances? Wow.