The sports world and Major League Baseball lost two former players, who played with all heart, over the weekend.
Former MLB player and manager Don Baylor — a strong clubhouse leader in the game, a pioneer outside it and gentleman in both — died early Monday morning after a long battle with multiple myeloma. This was confirmed by his son, Don Baylor Jr., He was 68.
“Don passed from this earth with the same fierce dignity with which he played the game and lived his life,” his wife, Rebecca, said in a statement.
Baylor — a native of Austin, Texas — was one of the first African Americans to attend Stephen F. Austin High School and the first to play baseball and football at the school. He could have become the first black player in University of Texas football history, the American-Statesman noted, had he not turned down legendary coach Darrell Royal‘s scholarship offer to pursue a career in baseball.
He would go on to play 19 seasons in the majors beginning in 1970, most notably with the Baltimore Orioles and California Angels. Baylor was the 1979 American League MVP; a power-hitter known for crowding the plate and daring pitchers to come inside. They frequently obliged, leading to his being hit by pitches a then-record 267 times.
He also played for the Oakland A’s, New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox. A three-time Silver Slugger, he batted .260 for his career, hitting 338 home runs and driving in 1,276 runs. He reached the World Series three straight times at the end of his career from 1986 to 1988 and won the title with the Twins in 1987, batting .385/.467/.615 in a five-game series victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
After his playing career, he became the first manager in the Colorado Rockies history. He was the team’s skipper for six seasons and took the Rockies to their first postseason appearance in 1995, when he also was named National League Manager of the Year. He also managed the Chicago Cubs from 2000-02, going 187-220.
Former All-Star catcher Darren “Dutch” Daulton, one of the most beloved Philadelphia Phillies players in the club’s history, died Sunday following a four-year battle with brain cancer. He was 55.
In July 2013, Daulton had surgery to remove two tumors in his brain, and two weeks later announced that he was suffering from glioblastoma — an aggressive form of brain cancer. Daulton said in February 2015 that he was cancer-free.
But the Phillies released a statement last month indicating that Daulton was “struggling with right now with his four-year battle with brain cancer.”
Daulton played 14 years in the majors from 1983-97, with the majority of his career being spent in Philadelphia. A three-time All-Star, his best season came in 1993 when he belted 27 homers and an NL-best 109 RBIs en route to winning a Silver Slugger. He was widely acknowledged as the leader and heart of the 1993 Phillies club that shockingly won that year’s NL pennant.
In July 1997, the Phillies traded Daulton to the Florida Marlins, who he helped win that year’s World Series before retiring at season’s end.
Daulton played 1,161 games in the majors, posting a .784 OPS and slugging 137 home runs.
The Phillies inducted Daulton into their Wall of Fame at Citizens Bank Park in 2010. In his post-baseball career, Daulton hosted a radio show, “Talking Baseball with Dutch,” on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia.
Per the Phillies’ statement, Daulton is survived by his wife, Amanda, and their four children, along with his parents and brother.