Cancer Claims Baylor at 68

The New York Post and TMZ report that Don Baylor, a former player for the Yankees and Mets, passed away on Monday after a 14-year-long battle with multiple myeloma, a form of cancer that affects the plasma cells.

Baylor was born in Austin, Texas. He was one of three African-American students to integrate Austin High School, where he played baseball and football — the first African-American student to do so. Although he was offered a college scholarship for football, he opted to make a career in baseball instead.

After being drafted by the Baltimore Orioles for a sum of $7,500, Baylor played in the major leagues from 1970 to 1988 — for a total of 19 years. His All-Star career boasted a total of 338 home runs, 285 stolen bases, and 1,276 runs batted in. He was also hit by 267 pitches, the fourth most of any major-league batter. In 1979, Baylor was named American League MVP. In addition to the Yankees, Mets, and Orioles, Baylor also played for the Oakland Athletics, California Angels, Boston Red Sox, and Minnesota Twins throughout his career.

Even after Baylor retired from slugging, he was not done with baseball. He went on to serve as hitting coach for the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals. He later managed the Colorado Rockies from 1993 to 1998 and the Chicago Cubs from 2000 to 2002. He coached the Mets from 2003 to 2004, until his diagnosis with multiple myeloma.

After his coaching career, Baylor joined with Mel Stottlemyre, a former Yankees pitcher and coach, to raise awareness for cancer and fund research to find a cure.

After his death, Baylor’s wife Rebecca released a statement in which she said, “Don passed from this earth with the same fierce dignity with which he played the game and lived his life.”