Texas Baseball Trailblazer Don Baylor Dead at 68

Los Angeles Angels hitting coach Don Baylor gives a fan the thumbs up during warmups before a baseball game against the Texas Rangers in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, July 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

By Bill O’Neil

An Austin native who was among the first to integrate public schools in Texas–before going on to a standout career in Major League Baseball has died.

Don Baylor turned down a scholarship offer that would likely have made him the first African-American to play football at the University of Texas to instead focus on baseball.

He would go on to hit 338 home runs over a career spanning 18-years–which included stops with the Baltimore Orioles, California Angels and New York Yankees.

Baylor’s home run in Game 5 of the 1986 American League Championship Series helped set the stage for the Red Sox comeback over the Angels, propelling Boston in to a World Series match up with the New York Mets.

He would be part of the Minnesota Twins World Championship team in 1987. He would again appear in the World Series in his final season in 1988 with the Oakland Athletics.

Baylor, who would hold the modern record for being hit by a pitch until it was broken by the Houston Astros’ Craig Biggio would go on the become the first manager of the Colorado Rockies. He would also spend spend 2 1/2 seasons managing the Chicago Cubs.

Baylor spent much of the last decade battling multiple myeloma. He was 68.

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