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Don Baylor, who won MVP with Angels and World Series with Twins, dies at 68

Don Baylor, the 1979 American League MVP, died Monday of cancer. He was 68.

"Don passed from this earth with the same fierce dignity with which he played the game and lived his life," his wife, Rebecca, said in a statement.

He died Monday at a hospital in Austin, Texas, his son, Don Baylor Jr., told the Austin American-Statesman.

Baylor played for the Orioles, Athletics, Angels, Yankees, Red Sox and Twins over a 19-year career. He was an All-Star and the MVP winner with the Angels in 1979, when he led the majors in RBIs and runs and also set career highs in home runs and hits.

He reached the World Series three straight times at the end of his career from 1986 to 1988 and won the title with the Twins in 1987.

Baylor batted .260 with 338 home runs and 1,276 RBIs in his career. He led the majors seven times in being hit by pitches during a season, including taking 35 of them in 1986 with the Red Sox. He drew 267 HBPs in his career.

He was also known for speed as a younger player, including a career-high 52 steals with Oakland in 1976, and was a bruising baserunner who loved to break up double plays. He finished with 285 steals.

Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark issued a statement Monday on the deaths of Baylor and Darren Daulton, the former Philadelphia Phillies All-Star who died Sunday at the age of 55.

"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."

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred also expressed his condolences to the families of Baylor and Daulton in a statement.

"Throughout stints with 14 different major league teams as a player, coach or manager, Don's reputation as a gentleman always preceded him," Manfred said.

After his playing career, Baylor served as the manager of the Colorado Rockies for their inaugural season in 1993. He was the team's skipper for six seasons and took the Rockies to their first postseason appearance in 1995, when he also was named National League Manager of the Year. Baylor is one of four men, along with Frank Robinson, Joe Torre and Kirk Gibson, to win both an MVP and Manager of the Year award, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Baylor also managed the Chicago Cubs from 2000 to 2002. He had a career record of 627-689 as a manager.

He was diagnosed with multiple myeloma 14 years ago, according to his family. He partnered with former Yankees pitcher Mel Stottlemyre to increase awareness and promote research of the disease.

Born June 28, 1949, in Austin, Baylor was a second-round pick by Baltimore in 1967 and chose baseball over a chance to be the first black football player at Texas. Two years later, the Longhorns became the last all-white team to win a national championship.

Mostly a designated hitter but also an outfielder and first baseman, Baylor went to junior college before joining the Orioles organization. He made his big league debut in 1970 and spent six years with Baltimore. After a year in the first of two stints with Oakland, Baylor played six seasons for the Angels.

The Orioles and Angels opened a three-game series against each other on Monday night in Anaheim with a moment of silence for Baylor.

Baylor is survived by his wife, son and two granddaughters.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.