Saturday, October 12, 2013

Tony Taylor (#324)

"Tony Taylor at the bat rack". I always liked this card, a very unusual shot for back in the day. Tony may spend a lot of time browsing the bat rack, but he didn't spend much time at the helmet rack. He was one of the few players of that time that wore the inside-the-cap protector, rather than a batting helmet.

This was also around the time when Taylor was morphing from a regular 2nd baseman to a utility infielder.

Tony was signed by the New York Giants in 1954. After 4 seasons on their farm, he was selected by the Cubs in the Rule 5 draft following the 1957 season. Taylor became the Cubs' regular 2nd baseman from the beginning of the 1958 season, starting 128 games there as a rookie, and 148 games in 1959.

After starting the first 19 games in 1960, he was traded to the Phillies for pitcher Don Cardwell and 1st baseman Ed Bouchee. For the next 5 years (5/13/60 - 5/31/65) Taylor started most of the games at 2nd base for Philadelphia. While the other 3 infield positions were revolving doors during that time, 2nd-sacker Tony started at least 140 games each season (except for missing much of the 2nd half of 1961).

In June 1965, Cookie Rojas transitioned from jack-of-all-trades to starting 2nd baseman, and they each finished with 78 starts. Even with losing his 2nd base job, Taylor still played as much as any regular.

In 1966, 3rd baseman Richie Allen missed most of May, and upon his return spent 6 weeks playing in left field, with Taylor starting 42 games at 3rd base during this time. He also started 63 games at 2nd, spelling Rojas.

The following season, 1st baseman Bill White missed all of April and May with an off-season injury. Tony started 43 games at 1st base that season, without ever having played the position previously. When Allen went down with a hand injury in late August, Taylor started the final 40 games at 3rd base.

Allen returned to the Phillies in 1968, but with the hand injury on top of his already-suspect defense, he played that season as the regular left fielder, with Taylor at the 3rd base spot for 137 games.

In 1969 the Phillies added 3B/LF Deron Johnson, subtracted Bill White, and moved Richie Allen to 1st base. This left Taylor as a swing man between 2B (when Rojas got time off) and 3B (when Johnson was playing left field).

Tony continued as the backup 2B-3B in 1970, although he got much less playing time than the previous season, now that the starters were youthful upstarts Denny Doyle and Don Money. He was traded to the Tigers in mid-1971, and played 2 1/2 seasons there as Dick McAuliffe's backup at 2nd base.

After he was released by the Tigers, the Phillies brought him back for the 1974 - 76 seasons as their pinch-hitter extraordinaire. His old pal Dick Allen even rejoined the team for the '75 and '76 seasons.

After his playing career was over, Taylor coached for the Phillies for many seasons.

Taylor's late-1960s baseball cards showed his hometown as Yeadon, PA. That was next to the town I grew up in, and whenever we drove through Yeadon, we always hoped to see Tony walking down the street somewhere, but it never did happen (surprisingly enough!)


Douglas said...

OK here I go again with my memory stuff...I absolutely remember getting this card. I believe this was the first card out of my first pack I got at a grocery store (as opposed to ma and pa store down the block were I got all cards previously). I had hit on a new series at the grocery so I was getting totally new cards and no doubles. I think I only bought cards from the grocery store the rest of the year.

Taylor's card is really cool looking with it downward angle, bat rack, and two professional baseball 100 year patches.

Jim from Downingtown said...

Topps' American League "infielder at the bat rack" card was Juan Rios.