Bob Bailor (2010)

It’s very unusual for a baseball player to make it to the major leagues who never played high school baseball, but that is exactly what Connellsville native Bob Bailor did.


Bailor played basketball at Geibel High School, but he honed his baseball skills playing American Legion baseball.

“Connellsville at the time didn’t have any high school baseball and neither did Geibel and of course Geibel didn’t have football - so I just played basketball and I played American Legion baseball during the summer, Bailor said.”

It is a testament to the caliber of American Legion baseball that Bailor developed into a solid player.

“I think the biggest reason was because of no high school baseball. Bailor offered. “I think it was the year after I graduated that they started playing high school baseball in Connellsville. If Connellsville had baseball I probably would have ended up going to Connellsville.
“The American Legion competition was real good. That was the only baseball going at that time in that area. A couple of years we went to the Legion state championship and got close, but could never get over the hump.”

In high school he played on some decent teams coached by Ken Misiak.

“Yeah, we played well,” Bailor recalled. “Sometimes I think we could have gone further than we did.”

After graduating from high school Bailor was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Baltimore Orioles.

“I think I probably only weighed 140 pounds back then,” Bailor explained. “I never got drafted - there were a couple of other guys on our Legion team that got drafted. I guess Herman Welsh he was the Legion coach and he probably played a big role in me getting signed. A scout for the Orioles Jocko Collins offered me a contract. The ironic thing is he signed me and he signed Tommy Lasorda and then I ended up playing for Lasorda.”

Bailor spent six years in the Orioles system, which was jammed, packed with talent.

“We were kind of backed up when I started progressing through the farm system,” Bailor stated. “I played the infield - all the infield positions, but they had Brooks Robinson and Mark Belanger and Bobby Grich so Earl Weaver asked me to go out in the outfield and they had Don Buford, Paul Blair and all these gold glove outfielders so it was tough. But you just had to keep grinding and try to make a name for yourself.”

It was quite a learning experience for Bailor and he picked up a lot from the Baltimore veterans.

“Yeah, and they were all real good with the young guys,” Bailor said. “There was none of that looking over your shoulder - they went out of their way to help you. To this day Brooks Robinson is probably the best guy I ever played with as far as personality and helping and doing all the right things.”

Bailor finally came up with Orioles in 1975, but along came the expansion draft and a big break when he was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays.

“It was a big break, Bailor recalled. “I made the Orioles in 1976, but it was going to be spot playing and pinch running. So when the expansion draft came it worked out perfect for me - granted we didn’t have good teams in Toronto early, but it gave me some exposure as far as other ball teams.

Bailor became an early fan favorite in Toronto. In 1977 the 25-year old Bailor batted a career best .310 with five home runs, 32 RBI and 15 stolen bases.

“I think the big reason Toronto took me in the expansion draft was because I could play everywhere. I started out playing shortstop with them, but then when they started building the foundation and getting new player - well then I’d move somewhere else - third base and second, centerfield all over the place. Well finally they got good and they traded me,” said Bailor.

He was dealt to the New York Mets for pitcher Roy Lee Jackson in 1980.

“It was kind of a shock to me,” Bailor explained. “I lived in Manhattan and going there as a visiting player - you knew you were going to leave in three days, but coming from Connellsville and then living in New York City was kind of a shock.”

Bailor played for the Mets until 1983 when he was sent to the Los Angeles Dodgers along with Carlos Diaz for Ross Jones and Sid Fernandez.

“Once again I went from New York City to LA - I felt like Jed Clampett going out there,” Bailor joked. “Lasorda was good to play for - he let you do your own thing and had a lot of enthusiasm and kept you pumped up all the time. He was good to play for.”
Bailor’s versatility made him an asset. During his career he played at third base, second base, shortstop and in the outfield.

“Later when I was managing in the minor leagues sometimes kids would get upset about moving around and I would use myself as an example. You learn other positions and you are more valuable - there’s nothing wrong with moving around if it keeps you in the big leagues,” Bailor stated.

With the Dodgers Bailor got a taste of postseason experience playing in the 1985 National League championship series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

“Yeah, that was a tough one to lose,” Bailor said. “Ozzie Smith hit his first home run of the year left-handed and it was against us. I always liked Ozzie Smith until then.”

After his playing career Bailor became a minor league manager and a major league coach.

“I managed one year in A ball in Dunedin, FL and I spent four years at Syracuse, which is their Triple, A club,” Bailor stated. “I enjoyed managing, but when they talked to me about it I wasn’t too sure I wanted to do it. As I kept going on and on I really enjoyed it.”

Bailor became a coach with the Blue Jays for four years. Toronto won the World Series in 1992 and 1993.

“The first two-years I was there we won World Series,” Bailor gushed. “We beat Atlanta and Philadelphia. Getting two rings was something - it was a long wait. I think it would have meant more to me as a player, but getting it as a coach and part of an organization it was exciting and it still is looking back on it.”

Bailor left the Blue Jays two years later when Toronto fell on hard times and changed the coaching staff and Bailor retired. He lives in Tampa does a lot of fishing and hunting. Bailor has a brother still living in Connellsville and a sister living in Irwin. He still has a house in Connellsville and a hunting cabin in Somerset County.

“If it were up to me I would probably be in Connellsville fulltime,” Bailor stated. “

The 58 year-old Bailor is satisfied with his 11-year career. He compiled a .264 lifetime batting average with nine home runs and 222 RBI.

“I have people send me stuff all the time and they always want to know what was your greatest thrill in baseball?” Bailor explained. “It was always putting that uniform on for the first time. Matter of fact the first game we played Bob Prince had the game. That’s when he worked for ABC. He was down in the dugout and he came up to me and said ‘you’re from Connellsville aren’t you? And I said yes.’ I was in awe just talking to Bob Prince – let alone having a major league uniform on. Any how he goes ‘we’re going to get a shot of you in the dugout so people back home can see you.”


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