Tony Taylor loved baseball and loved being a Philadelphia Phillies player. That’s why the sound of his melodious name, Tony Taylor, always brings a smile to the face of many Phillies fans of a certain age.
Tony was our guy even though he wasn’t originally a Phillies player. He was obtained in a trade with the Chicago Cubs on this very date in 1960 along with catcher Cal Neeman in exchange for first baseman Ed Bouchee and pitcher Don Cardwell. He taught us about hard work – do your job and keep trying.
It’s time to remember him and shed some light on what kind of guy he is. There was a personal encounter that happened during the 1968 season. During a rain delay at Connie Mack Stadium, my best buddy Bob and I ended up in a room in the walkway en route to the Phillies dugout. There was a bunch of electrical equipment in there which we were told was basically a power source for the ballpark’s sound system.
We opened the door and much to our surprise, there was Tony Taylor, smoking a cigarette while reading a pamphlet. He did not display an ounce of shock or fear nor did he yell at us to get out. Rather, he welcomed us.
We told him we were big fans of his which brought a smile to his face. We patted him on the back. The feel of a Phillies uniform back then was something magical. It almost felt starchy.
He then began cracking up when Bob demonstrated Taylor’s batting stance. Taylor’s unique ritual was to touch his cap, and practice swinging underhand style with the bat while rocking back and forth. He did it three, four times. Laughing Tony said, “Good, you got me.”
Right about then a security guard came into the room to check on Tony and saw us. “Everything good, Tony?” he asked. Tony said that he was just talking to friends. Imagine that. The guy who Phillies announcer By Saam referred to as a pepper pot, Tony Taylor, called us “friends.“
The 11-year-old in me back in 1964 refused to accept the baseball term “tailor-made double play” unless Tony Taylor was involved in that play. I realized the error of my ways when Mets broadcaster Lindsey Nelson used the same description “tailor made” later in the 1964 season.