This article would have a black border if the site made a provision for such. a thing. Baseball lost Lee May last week and that was bad enough. Starting last night, in a period of some 12 hours baseball lost two more good men and lost them too early. During Sunday night baseball the word came out about Darren “Dutch” Dalton, age 55, former catcher of the 1993 Phillies’ World Series team. Then as I was starting to prep this morning I found the bulletin about Don Baylor, age 68.
I remember having Don Baylor’s rookie card when I was just beginning as a baseball card collector. Dalton was a long shot to ever reach the bigs. He was drafted in the 25th round in 1980 and was drafted by the Phillies at that. This was during a stretch from 1976–83 when they won 5 NL Eastern division flags and reached the World Series in 1980 and 1983. Dalton was a late call-up with the Phillies in 1983 when I was a college student in Glassboro, N.J. The Phillies used to rerun games late at night in the decades before viewing on demand was possible. So, late at night during the seasons of 1985 and 1986 when he became a fulltime big leaguer if not a regular player, I heard his name often as I listened to those reruns. He played all but part of one season with the Phillies. He briefly joined the 1997 Marlins and won a World Series ring that way. He was an All-Star 3 times and as much of a clubhouse leader as anything else for most of his Phillies’ career. He hosted a radio show before games from 2010 to 2016.
Baylor was first called up at the end of 1970 with the Orioles. He’s best known for the work he did with the Orioles and Angels. In the 1986 ALCS, the Red Sox’ Dave Henderson hit a famous home run in the 9th inning to put the Sox ahead of the Angels. What isn’t so well remembered is the home run Baylor hit to make it a 5-4 game, setting the stage for Henderson. Entering that game down 3 games to 1 the Red Sox didn’t look back and almost rode their momentum to the World Series championship. Later Baylor he managed the Rockies for the first 6 years of their existence and spent 3 years managing the Cubs. Had he not chosen baseball he was offered a football scholarship and a chance to be the first black player to put on the burnt orange of the Texas Longhorns. After being on the wrong side of the 1986 World Series he joined the Twins who won the 1987 World Series, then spent 1988 with Oakland who were a heavy favorite to win the 1988 World Series until Kirk Gibson famously flipped the script. Cancer claimed the lives of Dalton and Baylor in the hours before I sat down to write this most difficult piece.