Red Sox

Don Baylor, leader of Red Sox '86 champions, dies at 68


Don Baylor, leader of Red Sox '86 champions, dies at 68

Don Baylor, whose acquisition just prior to the beginning of the 1986 season was one of the keys to the Red Sox winning the A.L. pennant that year, died Monday in Austin, Tex., after a long battle with cancer. He was 68.

Baylor -- who won the American League MVP Award in 1979 as a member of the Angels -- joined the Red Sox in a straight-up trade with the Yankees for fellow DH Mike Easler on March 28, 1986. Serving as the Sox' full-time designated hitter, he hit 31 home runs and drove in 94 runs in 160 games with a slash line of .238/.344/.439 and helped Boston cruise to the A.L. East crown. He also hit one of the most historic postseason home runs in franchise history, a two-run shot off Mike Witt in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the ALCS that cut the Angels' lead from 5-2 to 5-4 and set the stage for a dramatic comeback victory that helped the Sox overcome a 3-1 series deficit and win the American League pennant.

Beyond his on-field contributions, Baylor also served as the clubhouse leader the Sox had long lacked, He instituted a Kangaroo Court that fined players for minor transgressions and kept them focused on the field, helped guide the players through the turbulent waters of the midseason controversy surrounding the suspension of volatile pitcher Oil Can Boyd, and helped unite a team that had been fractured for years. He was credited by many of his teammates, particularly Dwight Evans, as being the glue that held the '86 Sox together.

Baylor was 37 when he played for the Sox and soon became a gun-for-hire, sought by contending teams to help get them over the top. He played in three consecutive World Series -- 1986 with the Red Sox, 1987 with the Twins and 1988 with the A's -- and won a championship with Minnesota in '87.

Baylor played for the Orioles, Angels and Yankees prior to joining the Red Sox. He finished his 19-year career with 338 home runs.

After his playing career, Baylor managed the expansion Rockies for the first seasons of their existence, guiding them to a postseason appearance in 1995. He also managed the Cubs from 2000 to 2002.

Baylor's family said he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma 14 years ago. He and former Yankees pitcher Mel Stottlemyre worked togetherto increase awareness and promote research into the disease.

"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.

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


Report: Price help persuade Martinez to join Red Sox

Report: Price help persuade Martinez to join Red Sox

Despite what he termed "so much more negativity" in Boston, David Price helped convince former teammate J.D. Martinez to join the Red Sox, USA TODAY reports.

“It is tough here,’’ Price told USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale. "There’s just so much more negativity. I’ve never been one for negative stuff. I like surrounding myself by positive people. Even if my wife starts talking negatively, I let her know. I just can’t stand it.

“I can remember [Vanderbilt] coach [Tim] Corbin is always preaching that positive, positive word, positive vibe, positive environment. I feel like I’m the same way. I try to find the positive in everything.

“Sometimes, that’s tough.’’

Price, who played parts of two seasons (2014 and '15) with Martinez with the Detroit Tigers, had a warning about that tough environment the Red Sox' newest big-money acquisition is getting himself into:

"Oh yeah, he’ll get booed,’’ Price said, laughing. “I told JD he will love the guys here in this clubhouse, but also told him he’ll get booed. He’s a quiet, soft-spoken guy, but he’ll handle it. Besides, everyone gets booed. I heard Big Papi [David Ortiz] get booed many times in Fenway.

“I’m ready to turn that page, and start that new chapter.’’

Price reiterated some of the points he made when talking to the Boston media last week, mostly, that he's "learned a whole lot" after last season. And he's keeping a lower profile on social media.

“I don’t think I would have changed anything last year,’’ Price says, “but I learned the way not to do things. I learned a whole lot. I’m a leader. I need to lead better. I know that.

“I rarely get on social media anymore,’’ Price said. “There’s nothing but negativity, that’s all it is. I can tweet out John 3:16, and I’m going to get crushed. There’s no point. No point. I used to really enjoy it, especially Twitter, interacting with everybody. I thought that was the coolest thing ever. I really enjoyed it.

“Now, I go weeks without even opening Twitter. I can’t remember the last time I read mentions or used Twitter for anything. I definitely miss it. I miss the interactions with the fans. But I’m ok with it.’’

“I’ve never been through anything like it,’’ Price said of last season. “There was so much going on. So much. It was a very trying year.

“If I wasn’t making the amount of money I was making it probably wouldn’t have been a big deal. But I’m an easy target.’’



BEST OF BST PODCAST: How J.D. Martinez signing impacts Red Sox

NBC Sports Boston illustration

BEST OF BST PODCAST: How J.D. Martinez signing impacts Red Sox

0:41 - The Red Sox have made their splash in free agency as they sign slugger J.D. Martinez to a 5-year, $110 million. Evan Drellich and Lou Merloni discuss the addition and how it makes the Red Sox offense much deeper.

5:44 - Devin McCourty told recently that the team knew Malcolm Butler wasn’t going to start in the Super Bowl. Albert Breer joins BST to discuss McCourty’s comments on Butler.

11:38 - Tom Giles, DJ Bean, and Joe Haggerty discuss the Bruins 2-1 win in overtime against the Flames and how they were able to bounce back after a 6-1 loss over the weekend. 

16:21 - Tom Curran, Kayce Smith, and Michael Hurley talk about why more people aren’t taking it seriously that Rob Gronkowski might retire.