Don Baylor dies at 68

Posted on August 7, 2017

Portrait of manager Don Baylor of the Colorado Rockies before a game against the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California in 1994. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

 

Don Baylor, the 1979 American League MVP, and 1995 National League Manager of the Year died today of cancer in Austin, Texas. He was 68. Baylor had a great career playing with many teams, but he is probably best remembered for his days with the Baltimore Orioles and California Angels. Over the course of his fabulous career Baylor was traded for Reggie Jackson, hit by a pitch 267 times, stole 52 bases in a single season, belted 338 career home runs, and put the fear of God into every middle infielder who saw him sliding into second base to break up a double play.

Baylor’s career wound down in the late 1980’s just as mine began shooting big league ball, so I never really had the chance to photograph him as a player that I can recall. My fondest memories of shooting Baylor were when he managed his terrific Colorado Rockies clubs in the mid-1990’s and would bring them into Candlestick Park three times a year to play the Giants. Baylor always had a great smile and you could tell by the way his players reacted to him that they loved playing for Baylor in Denver.

I never got to know Baylor (known by his friends as “Groove”), but over the years he was very kind to so many of my photographer friends in Southern California who covered his playing and coaching days with the Angels. Earlier today former Angels team photographer Matt brown posted a picture on Instagram of himself and Angels PR legend Tim Mead talking to Baylor near the batting cage a few years ago. Mead has worked for the Angels since the early 1980’s and knew Baylor very well. Mead sent out this tweet earlier today that pretty much sums up everyone’s feelings who knew Baylor well:

“RIP Groove. Character, dignity, discipline, compassion, loyalty, presence, are but a words to define you. Above all, dear friend.” – Tim Mead, Los Angeles Angels

Great baseball photographer Lou Sauritch has befriended many ballplayers over his long career in Southern California. Ever since I first met Lou 25 years ago I knew he was tight with Baylor. Lou was one of the first people I thought of this morning when I first heard the news. Lou said it very simply on Facebook this morning. “I lost a very good friend today, this one hit me hard.┬áRIP my friend.”

Now I would like to show you all a few of my favorite pictures of Baylor from his managing and coaching days from my archive, beginning in 1991.

Don Baylor of the Milwaukee Brewers talks to manager Don Zimmer of the Chicago Cubs before a spring training game at Compadre Stadium in Chandler, Ariona in 1991. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Manager Don Baylor of the of the Colorado Rockies sits in the dugout during a game against the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California in 1995. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Manager Kirk Gibson #23 and batting coach Don Baylor #25 of the Arizona Diamondbacks sit in the dugout before the game against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on July 3, 2011 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Coach Alan Trammell #3 and coach Don Baylor #25 of the Arizona Diamondbacks get ready in the dugout before the game against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on July 3, 2011 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Coach Don Baylor of the Arizona Diamondbacks watches batting practice before the game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on September 4, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

If you never saw Baylor play do yourself a favor and call up some YouTube videos. The guy was a stud. RIP Groove.

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