Friday, October 10, 2008

#296 Tony Taylor

Tony Taylor by you.
Comin' right at ya today with the ageless Tony Taylor, long a fan favorite in Philadelphia who was noted for performing the Sign of the Cross before each at-bat. Taylor was a native of Cuba, and signed with the New York Giants as a teenager in 1954. He was a Rule 5 draftee of the Cubs in December of 1957, and made his big league debut the following year in Chicago. The second baseman was a frequent double play partner of Ernie Banks, the 1958 National League MVP. After improving offensively across the board in 1959 (including raising his batting average from .235 to .280 and his doubles from 15 to 30), he was traded to the Phillies in May of 1960. Tony would make his lone All-Star appearance that summer, singling in one at-bat over the two All-Star Games. He finished the season hitting .284 with a personal-best 26 stolen bases.

Taylor would spend twelve consecutive seasons in Phillies red (1960-1971), playing a steady second base and generally hitting enough to not be a detriment. 1970 was the only year in which he played at least 120 games and hit .300, though he would top it twice in his later years as a part-timer. In mid-1971, Philadelphia traded the 35-year-old Taylor to the Tigers. He was a valuable asset on the 1972 club, but faltered in his only career postseason series, hitting just 2-for-15 in the ALCS as the A's outlasted Detroit in five games. After a subpar 1973, Tony rejoined the Phillies and ended his career as a reliable pinch hitter and utility man. He retired in 1976 at age forty as the Phils' all-time leader in games played at second base (1,003), and ranks second in club history in steals of home plate (six). He collected 1,511 of his 2,007 career hits in the City of Brotherly Love (tenth among all Phillies), and was selected for the team's Wall of Fame in 2002.

Fun Fact: Tony's first career home run came on June 19, 1958. It was a game-winner in the top of the ninth to break a 4-4 tie. The opposing pitcher? Warren Spahn, the winningest lefty of all time!
Tony Taylor (back) by you.

1 comment:

  1. I love this card and Tony was my fave 2nd baseman back in the 70's. What a classic he was on that Phils team with Bowa. Come to think of it, I imagine it was Denny Doyle who replaced Tony. Denny's early retirement from baseball is curious to me as he was on the Red Sox as the full time 2nd bagger and he had some half decent stats, esp in the triples dept.