My Favorite Don Baylor Story

Arizona Diamondbacks batting coach Don Baylor before their spring training baseball game against the Oakland Athletics at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick near Scottsdale, Ariz., Thursday, March 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

The Austin American-Statesman announced today that long-time baseball player, coach, and manager Don Baylor passed away this morning at the age of 68. Baylor succumbed after a long battle with multiple myeloma, a form of cancer. We at Outfield Fly Rule pass along our condolences to the family, friends, and co-workers of Mr. Baylor.

Don Baylor may be best known to most Braves fans as one-time hitting coach for the team in 1999, between his managerial stints for the Colorado Rockies and Chicago Cubs. However, Baylor was a fairly proficient major league hitter, as well, posting a career 118 wRC+ and having above average offensive years in 16 of his 19 seasons. Baylor won the 1979 AL MVP after posting a .901 OPS, a league-leading 139 RBI, and a league leading 120 Runs Scored. He also managed to fit in 36 HR and 22 SB that year.

Baylor was the modern-era record holder for career HBP with 267, until Craig Biggio passed him. Baylor played in three consecutive World Series, for three different teams, joining Eric Hinske (also a former Atlanta Brave) as the only players in MLB history to accomplish that feat. He is also the only player in MLB history with 300 or more HRs, 250 or more SBs, an RBI title, an MVP award, three or more World Series appearances, a World Series ring, and a World Series HR.

While Baylor’s time with the Braves was largely fleeting and uneventful, he managed to win over the fans with his big smile and outgoing personality. But my favorite Don Baylor story does not involve Baylor as a coach for the Braves, but instead during his run as manager for the Colorado Rockies.

In 1996, Braves’ pitcher Greg Maddux was in the midst of a historic, multi-season run of pitching success. Baseball was fresh off a strike that had cost parts of two seasons, and fans were still slow to return to the game. Some teams still had replacement players on their rosters, and that didn’t sit well with some of the MLB veterans. The Braves played the Rockies on May 7, 1996, and the game went ten innings. The Rockies starter that day was former replacement player Mike Farmer, who was making his first major league start. Farmer went seven innings and allowed just two hits.  Unfortunately, the opposing pitcher that day was Greg Maddux.  MLB Veterans Bruce Ruffin and Curt Leskanic combined to blow a Rockies’ 5-2 lead, and after the game, some comments were made by some veteran Rockies that suggested Farmer, the former replacement player, was not yet ready for the majors.

I’ll just let Don Baylor take it from here:

That’s a bleeping disgrace. {Bleeping bleep}. Absolute {bleeping bleep}. We {bleeping} get two strikes on guys. We {bleeping} walk a guy hitting {bleeping} .200 (Jeff Blauser). They do us a {bleeping} favor and leave him {bleeping} in, and we {bleeping} walk him. You’ve got to be {bleeping} {bleeping} me. The {bleeping} guy pitches his {bleeping} heart out, and we go out and {bleep} up the game like that. They’re worried about him being a {bleeping} replacement player? You have to be {bleeping} {bleeping} me. He {bleeping} pitches against one of the best {bleeping} pitchers in the history of the {bleeping} game (Greg Maddux). He {bleeping} battled his {bleeping} {bleep} off, and he’s got to watch that {bleeping} {bleep}? He had to {bleeping} wait here and get to {bleeping} pitch. He {bleeping} pitches his {bleeping} {bleep} off on a {bleeping} night he has no {bleeping} chance because {bleeping} Maddux is pitching. – Quoted in Sports Illustrated, May 20, 1996.

RIP, Don Baylor. Baseball needs more people like you.

About Chris Jervis 74 Articles

Chris Jervis is an accountant in the Atlanta area. He’s long had an interest in baseball, and, being a numbers nerd, loves analyzing player performances. He also likes to argue and is kind of an ass.

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