BAYLOR, DONALD EDWARD (1949 ~ 2017). The following is an obituary for Major League Baseball player Don E. Baylor. The obituary was published in the August 10, 2017 edition of the Austin American-Statesman.
BAYLOR, Sr., Don Edward Don Edward Baylor, Sr. was on born on June 28, 1949 in Austin, Texas to George and Lillian Baylor. He accepted Christ at an early age and was a member at Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church for more than sixty years where he served as Deacon until his death. Don also held dual membership at Second Baptist Church in Indio, California under the leadership of Pastor Ricky B. Williams.
Don was a devoted father and in 1972, he experienced great joy with the birth of his son, Don, Jr. Donny was his pride and joy and Don reveled in setting up travel arrangements for Donny to and from cities and stadiums throughout the U.S. and beyond. Donny learned many valuable lessons from his father throughout their travels. Their most memorable moments were at the dinner table shared with many family and friends and stadiums throughout the league.
He was also a devoted husband and married the love of his life, his wife, Becky on December 12, 1987 and remained in holy matrimony for nearly thirty years. They shared many highlights throughout their extra innings love story. Together they were a dynamic duo and great ambassadors of the game.
Don grew up in Austin, Texas in the community of Clarksville where he was a natural born athlete and leader that excelled at football and baseball. He was one of three African Americans to integrate public schools in Austin, Texas when he attended O. Henry Junior High School in the 1960s. He was the first African American athlete at Stephen F. Austin High School where he later graduated. His high school coach, Frank Seale has remained an important part of his life and family.
Don was a man of many firsts, he was offered a scholarship to play football at the University of Texas by coach Darrell Royal which would have made him the first African American to play football at UT. As you know, Don opted to pursue his baseball career and enrolled at Blinn Junior College in Brenham, Texas. He was drafted in the second round of the 1967 draft by the Baltimore Orioles, a team studded with future Hall of Famers.
With the Orioles in the early 1970s, Don made his major league debut, broke into the everyday lineup, collected his first postseason RBIs, and earned his nickname of "Groove". When Don retired, he held the major league record for being hit by a pitch 267 times and led the majors in that category seven times. Don's 19 year career was spent in the American League as an outfielder, first baseman and designated hitter for six teams highlighted with winning the American League MVP with the Angels in 1979.
He reached the World Series three straight seasons (with three different teams) from 1986 to 1988. Don was named the National League Manager of the Year in 1995 when the Colorado Rockies made their first post season debut, making him one of four men to win an MVP Award and be named Manager of the Year. He was the first manager in Rockies history from 1993-1998 and the Chicago Cubs from 2000-2002.
Off the field, since 1978, Don served as host the annual golf tournament in Southern California to raise funds to help find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis which to date has raised millions of dollars. In addition to using the golf tournament in the fight to defeat CF, Don founded the original 65 Roses Sports Clubs (which eventually spread to every major league team), a program that generated tens of millions for life saving medical programs.
Don's leadership and respect for the game went beyond the clubhouse, he was a team representative and ultimately the American League Union representative and had a significant impact in some of the most tumultuous times in the modern-day MLB union leadership and contract negotiations, further establishing the depth of his courage to stand up for what's right. Don was also an author and published his book, Don Baylor, Nothing But The Truth: A Baseball Life, with Claire Smith in 1989.
He was a member of the following Halls of Fame: California Angels, Colorado State Sports, Texas State Sports, Texas State Baseball, Rochester Red Wings and the International League. Don passed from this earth on Monday, August 7, 2017 with the same fierce dignity with which he played the game and lived his life.
He was preceded in death by his parents, George and Lillian Baylor. He leaves to cherish his memory and legacy, a loving wife, Rebecca (Becky) of Lakeway, Texas; his son, Don Baylor, Jr. of Austin, Texas; two beautiful granddaughters, Brooklyn and Nola Bee Baylor of Austin, Texas; his brother, Douglas Baylor, Sr. of Austin, Texas; his sister, Connie Baylor-Ferguson (Kenneth) of Cedar Hill, Texas; nephews, Christopher Baylor, Sr. (Andrea) of Plano, TX and Douglas Baylor, Jr.; nieces, Marquette Baylor-Bailey (Keith) of Milwaukee, WI and Kameron Johnson of Cedar Hill, TX; and a host of great nieces, nephews, cousins, extended family, friends and colleagues.
Visitation Friday, August 11, 4-5 pm at King-Tears Mortuary. Memorial Service Friday, 6:05-9 pm, Sweet Home MBC (Clarksville). Tribute Service Saturday, August 12, 11:05 am, Greater Mt. Zion Baptist Church. Interment Texas State Cemetery. Funeral services are under the auspices of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church.
Published in Austin American-Statesman on Aug. 10, 2017