AUSTIN (KXAN) — Don “Groove” Baylor’s best baseball friends paid their final respects Saturday in Austin, Texas.
Baylor died Monday after a 14 year battle with cancer. According to teammates and friends, battle best describes Baylor’s approach to baseball. Off the diamond, he was a kind, thoughtful man intent on serving others.
“I wasn’t too friendly with too many people in baseball. I don’t say too many nice things about them but there’s nothing I can say bad about my friend, Don Baylor,” former teammate Frank Robinson said during the service at Greater Mt. Zion Baptist Church.
Many of the players Baylor impacted during his 28 year career as a player and manager were in attendance including MLB’s Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre, former Cardinals manager Tony Larussa, teammate Bobby Grich and Robinson.
Baylor played 19 MLB seasons predominately with the Orioles and Angels. He won the 1979 American League MVP award with the Angels. Grich spent 12 seasons playing alongside Baylor and shared stories at the Saturday morning service from players across baseball that felt Baylor’s guidance at some point in their career.
While Robinson coined Baylor’s nickname that will last beyond a lifetime.
“He was having a bad time with it (hitting slump) and he broke out of it and had a couple of hits. So in the meantime, he was being interviewed for what got him out of the slump. He said ‘I’m going now, I’m on my way. I’m in the groove, I’m in the groove.’ I pinned that name on him. I said from now on Don, you are groove,” Robinson said.
“Groove” lives on in baseball’s history.