Former Cubs manager Don Baylor dies at 68

AUSTIN, Texas  – Major League Baseball lost one of its most respected players and managers early Monday morning.

Don Baylor, a former All-Star, MVP and manager of the Cubs, died at the age of 68 in his hometown of Austin, Texas after a bout with multiple myeloma. His son confirmed the news to the Austin American Statesman.

Chicago was one of two stops Baylor had as a manager in the major leagues, joining the Cubs in 2000 after the team fired Jim Riggleman. In his second season, Baylor had the Cubs in first place through mid-August before a late season fade, but still finished 88-74. A 34-49 start the following year led to his firing mid-season, as he finished his Cubs career with a  187-220 record.

Baylor was also the first manager of the Colorado Rockies, taking them to the playoffs in their third year of existence in 1995. Overall, Baylor managed in the majors leagues for parts of nine seasons, finishing with a 627-689 record.

Most fans will remember Baylor for his standout playing career with seven teams from 1970-1988. He was named the American League MVP with the Angels in 1979 – his only year as an All-Star – hitting .296 with 36 homers and 139 RBIs. With the Yankees and Red Sox, Baylor won the Silver Slugger Award in 1983, 1985 and 1986, finishing his career with 336 homers and 1,276 RBIs.

In the final three years of his career, Baylor became the first in MLB history to play in three World Series with three conseuctive teams – doing so in Boston in 1986, Minnesota in 1987 and Oakland in 1988. Current Cubs assistant hitting coach Eric Hinske pulled off the same feat with the Red Sox in 2007, Rays in 2008 and Yankees in 2009.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel released the following statement about Baylor’s passing:

“Today, baseball lost a genuine class act. I join the City of Chicago in mourning the loss of Don Baylor, not just a great Cubs manager but a great man. He lived his life with the same unflinching toughness with which he approached the batter’s box – unafraid to take a hit. Baseball, and the world, has lost a respected clubhouse leader and an accomplished athlete with the rare distinction of playing in three consecutive World Series with three different teams. Amy and I send our prayers and condolences to the Baylor family.”