Baseball Right Move For Baylor

By Brian McTaggart
Updated: November 10, 2007

Cesar Cedeño, left, Phil Garner, and Don Baylor share a Hall of Fame moment.

Cesar Cedeño, left, Phil Garner, and Don Baylor share a Hall of Fame moment.

HOUSTON — Growing up in Austin in the 1950s, Don Baylor — like many kids in Texas — had dreams of playing football. Somewhere along the line baseball got in the way, and Baylor became one of the greatest players the state has produced.

Baylor was one of six people inducted into the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame during a dinner banquet this past Friday night at the J.W. Marriott, joining former Astros manager and player Phil Garner, former Astros outfielder Cesar Cedeño, broadcaster Anita Martini, former Texas Rangers slugger and two-time American League Most Valuable Player Juan Gonzalez and former Negro League shortstop Willie Wells.

“Considering that it’s a football state, it’s an outstanding honor for me,” Baylor said. “I was a football player that wanted to play baseball. (Former University of Texas football) coach (Darrell) Royal wanted me to come to the University of Texas and play football only, and he always tells everybody he extended my career by me playing baseball.”

Baylor, who still lives in Austin, played 19 years in the majors with the Baltimore Orioles, Oakland Athletics, California Angels, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins, winning the 1979 American League Most Valuable Player Award.

Baylor, 58, also managed the Colorado Rockies and was named National League Manager of the Year in 1995 and later managed the Chicago Cubs.

Garner, who was fired Aug. 27 less than two years after leading the Astros to the 2005 World Series, played and managed against Baylor. He also managed Gonzalez while both were with the Detroit Tigers, was a teammate of Cedeño in 1981 and was a friend of Martini.

“I did a lot of things for her, and she did a lot of things for me,” Garner said of Martini, the deceased longtime Houston television and radio personality who fought for women’s equality in the locker room.

“She was a pioneer for women’s sports in this city and a class act. The people that I know and am going in with, I’m flattered to be in that group.”

Since being let go by the Astros, Garner has spent a month in Florida on vacation and recently returned from a weeklong golf outing at Pebble Beach, Calif. He said he has no ill feelings towards the Astros.

Cedeño, 56, debuted with the Astros in 1967 at 19 years old and played 17 years in the majors, including 12 with the Astros. He’s still near the top of several Astros’ offensive records and holds the club record for most stolen bases.

“It’s a great thrill,” he said.

Wells, an Austin native, set the Negro League record with 27 homers in 88 games with the St. Louis Stars in 1926. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997.

Astros vice president of community development Marian Harper received the fourth annual Jimmy Wynn “Toy Cannon” Award for community service, which was presented by Wynn.