Old School: Baylor Didn't Charge the Mound But He Delivered His Message

The late Don Baylor was hit by a pitch more often than any player in Major League history who didn’t wear padding. And only twice out of the 267 times that Baylor was drilled did he charge the mound. Both times he was hit in the helmet.

Once it was John Denny, a well-known headhunter. The other time it was Dennis Leonard, back in 1976 when Leonard and the Royals were about to end the five-year run of AL West division titles that belonged to the A’s, which was Baylor’s team in the summer of 1976.

Baylor had another way to send his message to the opposition.

“I’d go into second base and let the second baseman or shortstop, whoever was covering second, take the message back to the bench,” said Baylor. “I wasn’t helping my team if I got ejected. Besides, if I charged the mound the pitcher would get the last laugh because I’d get ejected.”

Rest assured, no matter who was covering second base, Baylor was making sure the message was sent.

Baylor did not play favorites.

“I remember when I was traded from the Orioles to the A’s,” Baylor once said of the deal prior to the 1976 season. “Bobby Grich and I were the (Orioles) first- and second-round draft choices in the (1967) draft, and were roommates from rookie ball to the big leagues. He’s my son’s godfather.

“The Orioles came to (Oakland) and I got hit by a pitch. I looked across the infield and Bobby’s looking at me, like, `You aren’t going to are you?’ I just nodded yes. He was on the other team.”

But then Baylor was old school.

Hal McRae became a coach with the Phillies in 1997, and one afternoon when the Rockies were in Philadelphia a mention was made of McRae.  Baylor explained that he had never met McRae.

“But you guys were DHs in the American League at the same time,” he was told. “You were even in the same division for a number of years.”

Baylor smiled.

“We were never on the same team,” he said. “Why would I have talked to him?”

That was Baylor.

Old School.

Shortly after the Rockies traded Eric Young to the Dodgers, Young and the Dodgers came to Coors Field. A Denver writer made an issue out of the fact Baylor did not go over to the Dodger dugout and greet Young.

“Why would I?” Baylor said. “We spoke when the deal was made. I’m not going to their dugout.”

The incident was recently mentioned to Young.

“I never expected him to,” said Young. “I knew Don. I respected him more than anybody could respect a man. I nodded at him (during that visit) and he smiled. That was a big statement in itself.”

Baylor was once approached by a producer for the Giants telecast, and asked if he would tape a pregame interview. Baylor agreed. The producer said the camera was set up on the outfield side of the Giants dugout.

“Sorry,” Baylor said. “I don’t go over there.”

The producer assured Baylor it was early enough in the afternoon that it wouldn’t be a big deal.

“I don’t even say hello to Dusty Baker when we are at the ballpark, and he’s one of my closest friends,” said Baylor.

Nah, the only time Baylor was interacted with the opposition was when he wanted a middle infielder to take a message to the opposing pitcher after .

DID YOU KNOW:

--The defending world champion Astros have something to live up to in Houston. Every previous Houston professional franchise to win a championship repeated the next year – the AFL Oilers (1960-61), WHA Aeros (1974-75), NBA Rockets (1994-95), WNBA Comets(1997-2000), and MLS Dynamos (2006-07).

-- There hasn’t been a team win back-to-back World Series in the 21st Century. Only once in this century did a defending world champion even get back to the World Series. The 2008 Phillies beat Tampa Bay for the world championship, but lost the World Series to the Yankees in 2009.

--What kind of day was it for the Braves on Saturday? The Braves had a 10-2 lead after four innings at Wrigley Field, and were leading the Cubs 10-5 going into the bottom of the eighth. The Braves bullpen gave up nine runs in the bottom of the eighth, the Cubs rallying for a 14-10 win. The Atlanta bullpen went into that eighth inning with a season ERA of 1.63. Nine runs, eight earned, and three outs later the bullpen ERA now stands at 2.88.

--So much for throwing strikes. Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood has worked 17 2/3 innings in three starts, and has not walked a batter. He’s 0-2 in those three starts with a 5.09 ERA. There are only two other pitchers who have not issued a walk in a start this year and their fate hasn’t been any better. Andrew Suarez of the Giants did not walk a batter in 5 1/3 innings of his only start, but gave up four earned runs, and Parker Birdwell made one start for the Angels and allowed six earned runs in 1 2/3 innings.

Tracy RingolsbyComment