Friday, October 7, 2011
#90) RON TAYLOR
Ron Taylor came to the New York Mets when his contract was purchased from the Houston Astros on February 10, 1967. Mets general manager, Bing Devine was familiar with Taylor. The right-hander had pitched successfully for him while a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Ron made his debut with the Mets on April 13, 1967. He pitched a scoreless ninth-inning to preserve New York's 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Shea Stadium. Taylor would led the team with 50 appearances during the 1967 campaign. Working from the bullpen he finished with a 4-6 record and 2.34 ERA.
The Canadian native became the main weapon from the bullpen. Over the next two seasons, he continued to lead the Mets in appearances. Entering games 58 times in 1968, and 59 more the next season. "Gil defined everybody's role," Taylor shared about Gil Hodges appointment as Mets manager in 1968. "We sat in the bullpen, Tug McGraw and I, Don Cardwell, Cal Koonce, and we said to each other how good this team could be."
Ron was a strong contributor to the 1969 World Champion Miracle Mets. He threw scoreless relief in six total postseason appearances. Taylor would pick up saves in both the National League Championship and World Series. The veteran was also credited with the NLCS Game 2 victory after throwing 1-1/3 innings in relief of starter, Jerry Koosman. "I really loved it there," Ron recalled in 2008. "I really loved the fans. We won the Series, the tickertape parade was overwhelming. To be out there in an open car, all that confetti coming down, the roar, it was amazing."
Taylor pitched two more years with the Mets, but began to see the emergence of his friend Tug McGraw in the bullpen. He also started to see himself in a new career. The revelation occurred while traveling with McGraw on a USO tour of Vietnam after the 1969 season. "We visited a lot of hospitals and that did it." So when the New York Mets sold his contract to the Montreal Expos (on October 20, 1971) it was no surprise that his baseball career ended soon after. "Athough I was old for medicine, I still had a chance" explained Taylor.
He entered the University of Toronto medical school in 1972 alongside students a dozen years younger. Armed with an Engineering degree from 1961, he was able to accomplish the improbable task of earning his medical degree in 1977. Dr. Taylor returned to Major League Baseball in his new role of team physician for his hometown Toronto Blue Jays in 1979. "I've been a doctor for over 30 years," the converted relief pitcher said in 2008. "I'm happy helping people."
Ron Taylor signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to his home on February 18, 2009. Including the awesome "1969 World Champions" inscription.