Jul 10, 2016

Early Eighties Mets All Around Player: Bob Bailor (1981-1983)

Robert Michael Bailor was born on July 10, 1951 in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. Bailor was originally signed by the 1969 Baltimore Orioles as an infielder.

The five foot eleven right hander, couldn’t get a chance breaking into the Orioles big league line up with Mark Belanger, Dave Johnson, Bobby Grich, & Brooks Robinson solidifying the infield throughout the seventies. He made just a few brief appearances in both the 1975 & 1976 seasons. He was eventually chosen by the expansion Toronto Blue Jays in the 1976 expansion draft.

The speedy Bailor became one of Toronto’s first popular players during their inaugural season. He led the team in hits (154) at bats (496) stolen bases (15) & runs scored (62). He hit .310 (second on the club) with 21 doubles, 5 triples & 32 RBIs, earning a spot on the Topps All Star Rookie team. He was the hardest man to strikeout in the American League over the course of the 1977 & 1978 seasons, only going down 47 times in over 1100 at bats in those two seasons.

His average fell to .264 in 1978 but he still led the team in games (154) hits (164) at bats (621) doubles (29) & runs scored (74). He was second on the club to Dave McKay with seven triples & hit one HR with 52 RBIs.

In 1979 Bailor led all A.L. right fielders in assists (15) & was third in the league in fielding percentage (.986 %). His batting average fell to .229 as he missed some time in the summer on the DL. By 1980 he suffered more injuries & was no longer a starting everyday player. In December 1980 he was traded to the New York Mets for pitcher, Roy Lee Jackson.

In New York, Bailor became an excellent utility player, playing all infield & outfield positions. He proved to be a good leadoff hitter & a good number two hitter as well. In his strike shortened first season at Shea Stadium, he missed over a month of action, due to a rib cage injury. He debuted with the Mets on April 29th, entering the game in the 7th inning going 0-1 as a pinch hitter in a 10-0 blowout from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

He got his first start the next day & got a hit, followed a two hit game on May 1st. On May 7th he singled off the San Francisco Giants Doyle Alexander & scored what on Joel Youngbloods HR in a 3-2 win.

Baseball returned to action in early August after the strike, & on August 23rd at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, hit a sac fly off Tom Hume in the top of the tenth inning. It scored Alex Trevino in what would be the Mets winning run. On September 16th he helped the Mets beat Steve Carlton with a two hit, RBI run scoring day in the 5-4 win over the Phillies.

Overall in 1981 he hit .284 in 51 games with no HRs three doubles, eight RBIs & a .352 on base %. In 1982 he started out with a big Opening Day in Philadelphia, getting three hits, driving in three runs & scoring two more runs in a 7-2 Mets victory. On April 28th, Bailor's RBI sac fly in the Mets top half of the 15th inning, off the Padres Gary Lucas, was another game winner in San Diego.

Back at Shea Stadium on May 10th, he faced off against Lucas & the Padres again, coming to bat in the bottom of the 9th inning with the bases loaded in a 2-2 tied game. Bailor doubled to left field scoring a young Wally Backman & Ellis Valentine with the Mets winning runs. In May he hit safely in eleven of fourteen games, raising his average to .353 by the end of the month. Bailor hit well enough into the summer to keep his average up over .300 until mid July.

On July 24th he had yet another game winning hit on the road, again in San Diego. The Mets entered the 9th inning behind 3-2, but Rusty Staub's double tied the game at three each. With two on & two out, Bailor singled, scoring Hubbie Brooks with the game winning run.

In August he had a modest ten game hit streak with four multi hit games, he also drove in ten runs in the month. That August he also helped turn a triple play with Wally Backman & Dave Kingman although the Mets lost the game anyway He finished 1982 batting .277, with 104 hits in 110 games played. He scored 44 runs with 14 doubles a .313 on base % & 31 RBIs. His 20 stolen bases were second best on the club to Mookie Wilson's record setting 58.

In 1983, things slowly began to look up around Shea Stadium, Bailor began the season on Opening Day as the Mets short stop batting in the second position. On April 13th, he hit his first Mets HR, it was his first HR in three seasons, it came off the Phillies Sid Monge, in a 10-9 loss at Veterans Stadium. On June 9th, he doubled home Mike Jorgensen & Danny Heep in the top of the 11th inning, of a tied game at Wrigley Field. They were the winning runs as Jesse Orosco shut down the Cubs in the bottom of the 11th. 

On July 26th, he tied up a game against the Atlanta Braves with a 6th inning base hit, bringing rookie Daryl Strawberry home. The Mets on it 2-1 on a Mookie Wilson walk off HR. On August 8th he was what appeared to be picked off first base in the top of the 10th inning in Montreal. But the ball got away from first baseman Al Oliver, causing Daryl Strawberry to score from third base, in what was the Mets winning run.

On the year, he hit .250, with one HR eight doubles, 30 RBIs & stole another 18 bases (second to Mookie Wilson & Daryl Strawberry) while getting into 118 games and scoring 33 runs.

That December he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for pitcher Sid Fernandez, in a deal that certainly worked out for the Mets. In 279 career Met games Bailor hit .266 with 212 hits 25 doubles one HR, 69 RBIs 40 steals & a .308 on base %.

In L.A. he hit .275 in his first season playing a utility role in 65 games. He finished up his 11 year career in 1985 with the Dodgers. Overall he batted .264 life with 775 hits with 90 stolen bases, 9 HRs, 107 doubles, 23 triples a .310 on base % & 222 RBIs, only striking out 164 times in 2937 at bats.

Retirement: After his playing days he managed in the Blue Jays organization from 1987-1991 finishing in first place in 1989 with the Syracuse Chiefs. He then joined the Jays as a first base coach from 1992 through 1995 winning two World Series with the club in that role.

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