The baseball world lost not one, but two legends in the span of 24 hours: Darren Daulton and Don Baylor. Both Daulton and Baylor impacted baseball in multiple ways and have left their imprints on the game.
Daulton, a 14-year veteran and three-time National League All-Star, was most famously known for leading the improbable charge of the 1993 Philadelphia Phillies to the National League Pennant that year, where they ultimately lost to the Toronto Blue Jays in a thrilling six-game classic of a World Series. But despite putting up what some viewed as paltry offensive numbers, the reason that Daulton resonated with so many people was the intangibles of his locker room leadership.
“But what made him more valuable than those modest numbers might suggest were his intangibles, particularly his knack for calling games and commanding respect. Pitcher Curt Schilling, who blossomed when he began throwing to Mr. Daulton in 1992, fell under his spell, frequently calling his battery mate “the best catcher in baseball.” Manager Jim Fregosi labeled Mr. Daulton the game’s “best leader.”
The Wild Child of the the 1993 Phillies, Lenny Dykstra, delivered an emotional video about on the man they called Dutch today. In Dykstra’s words, Daulton was “the kind of guy that you wanted on your team, and he was without a doubt the unquestionable leader on a team that went from last from first in 1993.”
Daulton passed away at the age of 55 after a four-year fight with glioblastoma, a very aggressive form of brain cancer.
Don Baylor was the 1979 American League MVP for the California Angels, in that season Baylor lead the league in both RBIs and runs scored that year.
Baylor was also a three-time Silver Slugger winner in the American league and went to the postseason seven times in his career, winning one World Series title with the Minnesota Twins in 1987. When Baylor’s playing days were done, he became the manager of the Colorado Rockies for their inaugural season in 1993. Baylor also won the 1995 NL manager of the year and joins a hallowed list of manager that includes Frank Robinson, Kirk Gibson and Joe Torre as the only former players to win an MVP award and Manager of the Year.
MLBPA President Tony Clark had a statement on the passings of both Daulton and Baylor.
“Words cannot express the sadness we feel today, as cancer claims two more of the baseball-playing fraternity’s proudest and strongest members,” Clark said. “Darren Daulton and Don Baylor will be deeply missed by the entire baseball community. During their playing careers and beyond, both Darren and Don selflessly helped generations of young players transition from wide-eyed rookies into successful Major Leaguers. Don’s commitment to the game and its future also inspired him to play an instrumental role in helping the MLBPA establish itself as a bona-fide union.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Darren’s and Don’s families, friends and legions of fans.
Baylor, 66, passed away from a long-standing battle with multiple myeloma, also a form a cancer.