Los Angeles Angels hitting coach Don Baylor had surgery yesterday after fracturing the femur in his right leg while catching the ceremonial first pitch prior to the team’s season opener a night earlier.
In his first season as a coach with the team, Baylor received the throw from retired Angel Vladimir Guerrero, squatting with his left knee and right foot on the ground. When the ball was thrown slightly low and to the right, he leaned that way and his right leg buckled under him. He eventually had to be helped off the field.
Baylor, 64, is a survivor of multiple myeloma, a type of bone marrow cancer that can weaken bones. He was diagnosed in March 2003 while a bench coach for the New York Mets.
“He didn’t even flinch,” Angels center fielder Mike Trout told reporters. “He had a broken leg, and he wanted to get up and walk to the dugout.”
The Angels said in a Twitter post last night that Baylor had the surgery.
Baylor played 19 Major League Baseball seasons from 1970-88, hitting 338 home runs and posting a .260 career batting average. He played for six different franchises, including the California Angels from 1977-82. He was the American League’s Most Valuable Player in 1979, leading the league with 139 runs batted in and 120 runs scored, while hitting 36 homers.
He’s also had two managerial stints, leading the Colorado Rockies from 1993-98 and the Chicago Cubs from 2000-02.