Phillies: Legendary infielder Tony Taylor passes away at 84
By Matt Rappa
Phillies legendary infielder Tony Taylor has passed away
Wall of Fame Philadelphia Phillies infielder Tony Taylor passed away Thursday morning at the age of 84, the team announced; he is survived by his wife, Clara, and his children.
Taylor played 19 seasons in the majors, parts of 15 with the Phillies from 1960-71 and 1974-76. Across 1,669 career games in Philadelphia, Taylor slashed .261/.322/.346 with 219 doubles, 63 triples, 51 home runs, 461 RBI, 477 walks and 818 strikeouts.
Taylor fielded primarily second base, but also first base, shortstop, third base and left field. He was inducted into the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981, as well as the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame in 2004.
“Every time I put on the uniform, I have so much fun,” Taylor once said. “That’s why I got into baseball in the first place, because I loved it. To me, the day isn’t right until you put on the uniform.”
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“TT” is the third member of the organization’s family to pass away this month, the others including longtime player and coach ‘Irish’ Mike Ryan (78 years old), and relief pitcher Tyson Brummett (35 years old).
Phillies Managing Partner John Middleton called Taylor “undeniably one of the most popular Phillies of his or any other generation”:
"“His baseball talent was second only to his warm and engaging personality, as he would always make time to talk with fans when he would visit Philadelphia for Alumni Weekend. Growing up as a Phillies fan, my favorite memory of Tony is the remarkable play he made to save Jim Bunning’s perfect game. It was the play of the game and it was thrilling to see it back then. It remains equally thrilling today to watch Tony turn a sure hit into an out. On behalf of Leigh and myself and the entire Phillies organization, we send our deepest condolences to Clara and all of Tony’s family and friends.”"
Taylor was inducted onto the Phillies Wall of Fame in 2002, the second-to-last year of Veterans Stadium. Before Chase Utley, the Cuba native held the franchise record for games played at second base (1,003); Utley broke the record in August 2011.
Taylor is also fifth in games played by a Phillie (1,669), seventh in at-bats (5,799), tied for seventh in singles (1,178) and is 10th in hit-by-pitches (60). In addition, his 54 pinch-hits are the second-most in franchise history. In 1970, he became the first player in franchise history to hit a walk-off grand slam.
Last August, in Philadelphia to attend the Wall of Fame ceremony and the induction of Bobby Abreu, Taylor reportedly suffered multiple strokes in his hotel room. Later in the month, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Breen reported Taylor returned home with his wife to Miami and was making progress in his recovery.
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In 1963, Taylor finished 16th in the National League MVP race with a career-high 180 hits and 49 RBI. Primarily known for his defense, Taylor had a career .976 fielding percentage in a career that spanned nearly two decades.
Taylor began his near two-decade-long career with the Chicago Cubs in 1958-1960, before he was dealt to Philadelphia. Just a few months after opening Veterans Stadium in 1971, the Phillies dealt Taylor to the Detroit Tigers. Taylor eventually re-signed with the Phillies in December 1973 and played three more seasons to finish his career in 1976 at the age of 40. He was named a National League All-Star in 1960.
After his playing career, Taylor served as a major league coach for the Phillies from 1977-79 and 1988-89, as well as for the Florida Marlins from 1999-2001 and 2004. Taylor also managed in the Phillies minor league system from 1982-87, except for 1984, when he was the club’s roving minor league instructor. In addition, Taylor served as a minor league coach for the San Francisco Giants from 1990-92, as well as minor league coordinator for the Marlins from 1993-99.