Bailor was born on July 10, 1951 in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. He shares a birthday with Hall of Famer Andre Dawson, former Pirates SS Gene Alley, 1995 AL Rookie of the Year Marty Cordova, former Royal Hal McRae and KC 2B Johnny Giavotella.
He went undrafted after high school but was quickly signed by the Orioles in 1969. He played the following year in Bluefield on a team that won the 1970 Appalachian League championship. He played alongside future big league 3B Doug DeCinces (who I wrote about the other day here) and pitcher Bob Galasso, who also hailed from Connellsville and pitched 55 games over three seasons for the Mariners and Brewers.
In A-ball in 1972, he was a California League All-Star with the Lodi Orions. He led the circuit with 63 stolen bases, nearly twice as many as Jerry Remy who finished second with 32. Bailor moved on to Double-A Asheville in '73 and earned a Southern League All-Star nod. That earned him another promotion to Triple-A for the first of four seasons at Triple-A Rochester.
Bailor made it to the majors on September 6, 1975 and Orioles manager Earl Weaver called on the 24-year-old rookie in a big situation. They were tied 6-6 against the visiting Yankees with two on and two out in the bottom of the 13th. Bailor pinch-hit for Tom Shopay and stepped in to face fellow former Bluefield Oriole Sparky Lyle.
He worked a walk to load the bases for (another former Baby Bird) Don Baylor, who knocked a single to send home the winning run.
Bailor got into only five games for the O's in 1975 and only nine in 1976 as he spent the majority of those two seasons at Triple-A. It was tough to get any time in the talented big league infield and he caught a break when he was left exposed in the upcoming expansion draft.
Prior to the 1977 season, the American League held a draft for its two new expansion teams, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Seattle Mariners. The M's won a coin toss for the first pick and selected outfielder Ruppert Jones. The major leagues' first foreign club took Bailor with their first pick. Other Jays selections included Jim Clancy, Ernie Whitt, Bill Singer, Jim Mason and Doug Ault*.
* One of Seattle's picks was Galasso, maintaining the link between he and Bailor. They were born within a year of each other in Connellsville. Both made their professional debut in Bluefield and 1970 and both were expansion draft selections in 1977.
Bailor didn't play in the first American League game played north of the border, a snowy Jays win that featured two homers from Ault. But he did get into the Blue Jays' second game, stroking a pinch-hit single in his first at bat for Toronto.
1977 was Bailor's best season. He batted .310 to lead all rookies and split time between shortstop and the outfield. His OPS+ was 100 on the nose, here are qualifying seasons in which a batter hit .310 or better with an OPS+ of exactly 100:
It's only been done three times since World War II, by Curt Flood (the NL league leader in hits that year), Bailor and Jeff Cirillo, who knocked in 115 runs in his season.
Bailor hit five of his nine career home runs in his rookie season. It was the only multi-homer campaign of his career. That '77 season featured a lead-off shot in this game in Cleveland and his one career walk-off blast in this 13-inning game.
He proved early on that he would be very tough to strike out. His rate of 19.1 at bats per strikeout was the second-lowest mark in the American League (trailing only George Brett). The following year, with only 21 K's in 621 at bats, he led all major leaguers with a mark of 29.6 AB per K.
Although he got regular playing time at several positions, he struggled at the plate over the next three seasons with an OPS+ of only 71. But he performed well in the field, finishing in the AL's top five in outfield assists each year from 1978-80. In 1979, his 15 assists as a right fielder tied the renowned Dwight Evans for the most in the circuit.
He really was a jack of all trades for Toronto, even making three appearances on the mound in August of 1980. His pitching debut was on August 4 when he retired all four batters he faced to finish an 11-5 loss at Cleveland.
Bailor entered that game as a late-game replacement at shortstop and wound up pitching. Playing both positions in one game has only happened 18 times since:
|1||Aaron Miles||2010-09-28||STL||PIT||L 2-7||1||0||0||0||0||0||SS P|
|2||Felipe Lopez||2010-04-17||STL||NYM||L 1-2||9||8||0||1||0||0||SS 3B P|
|3||Josh Wilson||2009-06-07||SDP||ARI||L 6-9||3||3||0||0||0||0||SS P|
|4||Paul Janish||2009-05-06||CIN||MIL||L 3-15||4||4||0||0||0||0||SS P|
|5||Tony Pena||2008-07-21||KCR||DET||L 4-19||2||2||0||0||0||0||PH SS P|
|6||Augie Ojeda||2007-08-14||ARI||FLA||L 5-14||4||4||0||1||0||2||SS 2B P|
|7||Desi Relaford||2001-05-17||NYM||SDP||L 3-15||4||4||1||2||0||1||SS P|
|8||Shane Halter||2000-10-01||DET||MIN||W 12-11||5||5||2||4||0||3||SS C 2B CF 3B RF LF 1B P|
|9||Scott Sheldon||2000-09-06||TEX||CHW||L 1-13||2||2||0||1||0||0||SS C 2B CF 3B RF LF 1B P|
|10||Frank Menechino||2000-07-18||OAK||COL||L 3-18||2||2||0||1||0||0||SS P|
|11||Mike Benjamin||1997-06-21||BOS||DET||L 4-15||1||1||0||1||0||1||SS P|
|12||David Howard||1994-04-12||KCR||BOS||L 11-22||5||4||0||1||0||1||SS P|
|13||Alvaro Espinoza||1991-08-06||NYY||CHW||L 5-14||4||4||0||1||0||1||SS P|
|14||Junior Noboa||1990-07-20||MON||HOU||L 6-12||3||3||1||1||0||1||SS 3B P|
|15||Tim Jones||1990-06-08||STL||MON||L 2-18||3||3||0||1||0||1||SS P|
|16||Jeff Kunkel||1989-05-20||TEX||MIN||L 3-19||5||5||1||2||1||1||SS P|
|17||Jeff Kunkel||1988-08-31||TEX||MIN||L 1-10||4||4||0||1||0||0||SS 2B 3B P|
|18||Jose Oquendo||1987-08-07||STL||PHI||L 5-15||3||3||0||0||0||0||PH SS P|
|19||Bob Bailor||1980-08-04||TOR||CLE||L 5-11||1||1||0||0||0||0||SS P|
He worked an inning of mop-up duty four days later in this game. Eight days after that, his 0.00 ERA vanished when he allowed back-to-back doubles to Clint Hurdle and Rance Mulliniks in this game in KC. In this one he went from right field to the hill, something that's only been done 22 times since*.
* Included in this list is this famous Mets-Reds game from 1986. It was a brawl-filled marathon that saw Davey Johnson switch righty Roger McDowell and southpaw Jesse Orosco back and forth between right field and pitcher based on hitter matchups. The Mets won in 14.
|1||Darnell McDonald||2011-08-26||BOS||OAK||L 5-15||4||4||0||0||0||0||RF P|
|2||Wesley Wright||2011-08-23||HOU||COL||L 6-8||0||0||0||0||0||0||RF P|
|3||Michael Cuddyer||2011-07-25||MIN||TEX||L 6-20||5||4||1||1||0||0||RF 1B P|
|4||Joe Inglett||2010-07-27||MIL||CIN||L 4-12||5||5||0||0||0||0||RF P|
|5||Jonathan Van Every||2009-04-30||BOS||TBR||L 0-13||1||1||0||0||0||0||RF P|
|6||Cody Ross||2009-04-26||FLA||PHI||L 2-13||4||4||1||3||0||0||RF P|
|7||Shane Halter||2000-10-01||DET||MIN||W 12-11||5||5||2||4||0||3||SS C 2B CF 3B RF LF 1B P|
|8||Scott Sheldon||2000-09-06||TEX||CHW||L 1-13||2||2||0||1||0||0||SS C 2B CF 3B RF LF 1B P|
|9||Mike Aldrete||1996-07-18||NYY||MIL||L 4-16||2||1||1||0||0||0||RF P|
|10||Danny Heep||1990-05-25||BOS||MIN||L 0-16||0||0||0||0||0||0||RF P|
|11||John Moses||1990-05-19||MIN||BOS||L 1-13||4||4||0||1||0||0||CF RF P|
|12||John Moses||1989-06-24 (2)||MIN||BOS||L 2-11||2||2||0||1||0||0||PR CF RF P|
|13||Todd Worrell||1989-04-11||STL||CHC||L 4-5||0||0||0||0||0||0||RF P|
|14||Todd Worrell||1987-09-22||STL||PHI||W 3-2||0||0||0||0||0||0||RF P|
|15||Glenn Wilson||1987-08-05||PHI||NYM||L 3-13||5||4||1||1||0||0||RF P|
|16||Keith Comstock||1987-06-17||SFG||ATL||L 1-6||0||0||0||0||0||0||RF P|
|17||Roger McDowell||1986-07-22||NYM||CIN||W 6-3||2||2||0||0||0||0||RF LF P|
|18||Jesse Orosco||1986-07-22||NYM||CIN||W 6-3||2||1||1||0||0||0||RF P|
|19||Todd Worrell||1986-06-27||STL||PHI||L 1-2||0||0||0||0||0||0||RF P|
|20||Todd Worrell||1986-06-24||STL||PIT||W 5-2||0||0||0||0||0||0||RF P|
|21||Rick Leach||1984-08-15 (1)||TOR||CLE||L 1-16||3||3||0||1||0||0||RF P|
|22||Garry Hancock||1984-06-25||OAK||KCR||L 0-16||1||1||0||0||0||0||CF RF P|
|23||Bob Bailor||1980-08-16||TOR||KCR||L 5-11||4||4||1||3||0||0||RF P|
Bailor was on the move after the 1980 season when he was traded to the New York Mets for Roy Lee Jackson, who had a few good seasons for the Blue Jays after the deal.
In three years in Flushing, Bailor hit .266 with a meager 73 OPS+ while playing mostly shortstop and second base. As it is with most singles hitters who rarely walk, his on base percentage as a Met (.308) was actually higher than his slugging percentage (.306).
But he was great on the basepaths. He was successful on 38 of 44 steal attempts over the 1982 and 1983 seasons. His 86.96% in '82 (20-for-23) was the best in the National League. His percentage of 85.71% (18-for-21) in '83 was fifth in the Senior Circuit.
After three seasons, Bailor was traded again, this time to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The move played a big part in the resurgence of the New York Mets, who received a lefty prospect from Hawaii named Sid Fernandez. "El Sid" helped lead them to the title three years later. Even today, only Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, Jerry Koosman and Ron Darling have won more games for the Mets than his 98.
Bailor hit .261 with a 69 OPS+ in two years for the Dodgers, playing 139 games at third, second and short. L.A. won the West in 1985 and Bailor got his one and only taste of the postseason. He pinch ran for third baseman Bill Madlock late in Game Two of the NLCS against the Cardinals. In Game Four, he filled in for Madlock in a blowout loss once again, this time getting an at bat. He flew out to right in his last major league appearance. The Cards stormed back from 2-0 down in the series to win four straight and take the pennant.
With his playing career over, Bailor still stayed in the game. He joined the Blue Jays organization in 1987 and managed their A-ball affiliate in Dunedin to a winning record in his first season*. That earned him a promotion to the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs and he piloted the club for four seasons from 1988-91. In his second season there in 1989, he was named International League Manager of the Year as he led the Chiefs to a first-place finish, but they fell in the Governor's Cup series to the Richmond Braves. With four years under his belt in Syracuse, he was their longest-tenured skipper since Bobby Cox in the mid-1970s.
* After Bailor's one season in Dunedin, he was succeeded by former Toronto teammate Doug Ault. Ault lasted two seasons and he was replaced in 1990 by current Bluefield Blue Jays manager Dennis Holmberg.
Bailor was on the move after the '91 season, up to the big league club in Toronto. He manned the first base coaching box for four years, with his first two being the Jays' back-to-back titles in 1992 and 1993. During his last two seasons he was joined on the staff by bullpen coach Dennis Holmberg.
Manager Cito Gaston's entire staff was fired after the 1995 season and that was Bailor's last year in professional baseball.
Bailor wasn't productive at the plate during his career, but he showed his versatility in the field. It's shown in his Total Zone fielding stats (explained here). He finished in his league's top five in Total Zone Runs saved twice as a right fielder, once as a left fielder and twice as a second baseman. That can be very useful on the All-Time Bluefield roster. He would be a good platoon partner in right field with David Dellucci and serve as an extra infielder as well.
|SP 1||Dean Chance|
|SP 3||Bill Monbouquette|