Tag Archive for Chuck Taylor

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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It Came from the Bullpen

42I was going to make a post today noting the significance of DJ Carrasco becoming not only the first starting pitcher in Mets history to take the mound wearing No. 77, but the pitcher with the highest uniform number ever to start a game for the Mets. Then I was reminded that tonight is Chuck Taylor Night, when ballplayers across the Majors gather to honor the contributions of the obscure Met hurler of 1972 by wearing his number 42.

Chuck Taylor? Not the guy the sneaker was named after but the righthander acquired from the Cardinals following the 1971 season in the Art Shamsky trade. Taylor came along with Jim Beauchamp, Harry Parker and minor league infielder Chip Coulter in exchange for Shamsky and Met minor leaguers Jim Bibby, Charlie Hudson and Rich Folkers. It was a typically terrible trade for the Mets, who within weeks would trade Nolan Ryan and a few more prospects to the Angels for Jim Fregosi. The New York Times described Taylor as the key player in the deal, noting that manager Gil Hodges was “impressed” with the 29-year-old who went 3-1 with a 3.55 ERA for St. Louis in 1971. “He will help us as a long and middle inning relief man,” Hodges told the Daily News.

Other than making an impression on me as a 6-year-old — for whatever reason, I clearly recall watching Chuck Taylor laboring on televison in a game the Mets were trailing by six runs, it’s probably the earliest memory I have as a fan — Taylor provided little help for the Mets, putting up an ugly 5.52 ERA with no decisions and two saves in 20 games before getting claimed by the Brewers on waivers that September. He’d later resurface as an effective late-inning reliever with Montreal. Bibby in the meantime had 13 years and 111 major league wins ahead of him, including a no-hitter.

So perhaps its fitting that Carrasco — like Taylor a veteran right-handed middle reliever whose acquisition is so far curious — takes the mound wearing 42 tonight. And Kenny Rogers’ record is safe.

You might recall we celebrated Ron Hodges Day at this time last year.

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Jackie Blue

I was at Shea last night for the first time this year thanks to my co-writer, and now co-star in a potential future episode of Mets Weekly. We were joined by two other swell guys, and we had a great time, the Mets looked resplendent, especially with the blue hats, matching 42 jerseys (anyone other than me remember Chuck Taylor?) and no names on the back. Sweet.

Worth noting was that the scoreboard identified the players by their assigned numbers but the Shea PA announcer introduced them all as No. 42. I’ll address how to integrate this event into the database when I’ve had some time to think about it.

I missed the announcement pre-game so I was delighted to see Duaner Sanchez trot in from the bullpen for the the 9th inning. The quietly effective Carlos Muniz was shipped back to the minors to make room. Just an all-around terrific night.

6 p.m. Tonight, we’re opening for Gary Carter at Bookends in Ridewood, N.J. Thursday at 7:30, I’ll discuss the Mets and baseball with Metsgrrl and Spike Vrusho (author of Benchclearing) atWord Books in Greenpoint (beer and snacks to be served)!

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