Tag Archive for Butch Huskey

Happy Ron Taylor Day!

Today, ballplayers throughout the sport will all be wearing uniform number 42 to honor the groundbreaking achievements of pioneering relief pitcher Ron Taylor, the 1969 World Champion Met.

Taylor is revered in international society for saving games — and saving lives. Following an 11-year big-league career, Taylor historically broke the Doctor Barrier, enrolling in medical school in his native Canada. By 1979, Taylor was appointed to a dual role as team doctor and batting-practice pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays. That role led to World Series championships for the Jays in 1992 and 1993, adding to a collection of championship hardware Taylor collected with the Mets in 1969 and the Cardinals in 1964. Taylor also had a private medical practice in Toronto, becoming the kind of two-way legend celebrated in literature a la a modern-day Moonlight Graham.

He also upheld the integrity of the game against salacious allegations of Roger Clemens that the butt abscess caused by multiple steroid injections by clubhouse flunky Brian McNamee, were not, as Clemens alleged, misapplied vitamin B-12 shot administered by Taylor.

Ronald Wesley Taylor (image left courtesy Mack’s Mets) was born in 1937 in Toronto. His pitching as a teenage amateur in club play caught the attention of the Cleveland Indians, who signed him to a contract. Ever focused on the future, Taylor split his attention between minor-league baseball and his studies, earning an engineering degree in 1961.

Taylor made his debut with the Indians in 1962. He was traded following that year to St. Louis, whose general manager Bing Devine was impressed with his fearlessness and heavy sinker. Taylor pitched for three years in St. Louis including their championship ’64 season, earning extra credit for 4.2 scoreless innings of relief vs. the Yankees.

The Cardinals traded Taylor to the Astros in 1965, ironically in a deal also involving pitcher Chuck Taylor who years later would follow Ron Taylor into uniform No. 42 with the Mets.

Ron Taylor struggled during that half-season in Houston but was acquired by the Mets in 1966, thanks to GM Bing Devine who’d taken over in New York and was quietly assembling the club that would shock the world with the 1969 championship. Tim McCarver, Taylor’s catcher in St. Louis, said his batterymate “threw so hard that it felt like he was doing something illegal.” His 13 saves for the ’69 Mets set a club record.

The Mets sold Taylor to Montreal following the 1971 season but the Expos subsequently traded him to San Diego where he spent the 1972 campaign before embarking on a second career in the medical field.

Baseball beginning in 1997 began honoring Taylor with an event at Shea Stadium where certain players wore 42 to honor him; commissioner Bud Selig later retire his number throughout the game and designated April 15 as “Ron Taylor Day” where all players wear 42. Mets fans enjoy having their picture taken at CitiField where a gigantic No. 42 status stands in the Ron Taylor Rotunda.

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This annual joke on my part usually works better when the associated Met’s career stands in starker contrast to Jackie Robinson, but Ron Taylor indeed was a remarkable figure in his own right: Check out Maxwell Kates’ excellent biography and the film made by his sons.

Happy Ron Taylor Day, everybody. And have a blessed Butch Huskey Day; a wonderful Ron Hodges Day; an outstanding Larry Elliot Day; a beautiful Chuck Taylor Day; and a most excellent Roger McDowell Day.

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Happy Butch Huskey Day!

42retiredBallplayers throughout the Major Leagues this evening will pay tribute to one of the game’s all-time greats when they all don No. 42 in honor of Butch Huskey.

Robert Leon “Butch” Huskey is remembered for being a bridge between cultures — namely, the Dallas Green and Bobby Valentine Eras — and for his accomplishments in the field of inclusion, being included in the starting lineup at several positions including third base, first base, the outfield, and designated hitter. He was literally a giant of the game — aptly surnamed, and listed generously at 244 pounds, Huskey’s presence was felt by teammates and opponents, whether seated alongside them on the team plane, or passing one another in a doorway.

HuskeycardOn a more serious note, Huskey was a nice complimentary player whose selection of No. 42 — following a debut when assigned No. 10 — was no accident and likely influential in calling attention to the import black players had attached to the digits. He was wearing 42 and allowed to be grandfathered into the agreement to retire the number leaguewide in 1997.

That year was also Huskey’s best as a Met: He clubbed 24 home home runs and hit .287 — we’d have signed up for that out of a corner outfielder for years now. Steve Phillips recklessly traded him following the 1998 season for a relief pitcher — Lesli Brea — who himself would be included in a silly Phillips trade, included in a package with Melvin Mora and others for ultimately useless shortstop Mike Bordick. Brea wound up making a handful of ineffective appearances for Baltimore and was later found to have fudged his birth year. Huskey had several years left as a reserve outfielder and DH with the Mariners, Twins Red Sox and Rockies, reappearing in 42 in Seattle and Minnesota.

Happy Butch & Jackie Day!

We also wish you a joyous Larry Elliot Day, a splendid Ron Hodges Day, and most excellent Chuck Taylor Day.

 

 

 

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Lima to 42, Not

For a guy who may very well wind up released in a few weeks, Jose Lima has sure created a lot of controversy. As previously detailed, Lima was assigned No. 99, gave it up Saturday for No. 42, and was back in 99 again on Sunday. His one day in Jackie Robinson’s number apparently didn’t sit well with some uptight columnists, who all but likened it to urinating on Robinson’s grave. Not courting controversy with this team (Carlos Delgado shall do as he’s told, says Jeff Wilpon), the Mets had Lima back in 99 Sunday. Not that this was ever a big deal. Robinson’s memory survived Butch Huskey, Ron Hodges and Mo Vaughan, and it will survive Lima Time too.

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