Despite having lived great moments in baseball for more than 40 years, first as a player and later as a coach or coach, Antonio «Tony» Taylor Sanchez could not escape the excitement, after knowing his exaltation to the Palmar de Junco Hall of Fame, in Matanzas.
Taylor was born on December 19, 1935 in the central Álava, today Mexico, in the municipality of Colón, and is recognized as the best Cuban second baseman of all time in Major League Baseball, where he played in 19 seasons.
It was a shocking moment, not only for him, but also for those who sign this work, an admirer since childhood of this emblematic figure of Cuban baseball, take the news to his home in South Florida and deliver the ring and the document accrediting his Inclusion among the Matanzas Immortals of our National Sports.
After carefully observing the garment and reading his credential from Hall of Famer Palmar de Junco, he expressed gratitude for this distinction and sent a greeting to the Matanzas fans, «my homeland and I never forget.
» As it was also our purpose to talk with Taylor about his sporting life, we asked him about his beginnings to what he quickly pointed out with a certain nostalgia that he did not forget the land located in the sugar mill, where he started his passion for baseball with others boys from the area and their first and only championships as an amateur in Cuba.
-My first steps as an amateur appear just when I was 16, when they invited me to play in a team from an area near Álava, which had the name of Santa Gertrudis and who participated in the Jovellanos League, better known as «Sagüita» «Hernandez. To the next championship I play with the New Aurora Society team and from there I went to the strong Pedro Betancourt League, with Las Estrellas de Colón, always in second base or third, according to the need of the whole.
– In that stage nobody had noticed you to catch it for the professionalism?
-With Las Estrellas de Colón, I see a player called Felix Gomez, nicknamed ÁLAVA, because he was also from the sugar town. He was competing in the United States and he tells me if I wanted to go and look for luck in that baseball. I accept and convince my relatives to take me to Texas. It’s there, in 1954, where I signed a scout for the New York Giants.
-I think that few Cuban players were signed abroad at that time. How do you get to the Cuban Professional League?
– That same year, after playing with the Texas City team, class B, I returned to Cuba and Marianao hired me as a rookie. I only went to the bat eight times in which I hit two untraceable. But the next championship I played more and there is a famous change in which I passed along with a receiver to Almendares for José Valdivieso, another Matanzas player who had already been in the Major Leagues, but who was difficult to play, because the shortstop of the Blues it was Willie Miranda, of more quality.
Why then do they spend it playing at third base?
-Because they change for Havana nothing less than Héctor Rodríguez, where Almendares also passes Edmundo Amorós and the direction of the team considered that I was ready to play that base, since they had in second an American named Bob McKee, of good level, who had already taught credentials.
Tony Taylor regularly played in the Cuban Professional League from 1955 until his last championship in 1961, when professionalism was abolished in Cuba.
In that time the boy from Álava participated in six contests in which he was considered among the best players of that stage with several leaderships of triples, jits, stolen bases and batting, title won in the 1958-1959 campaign, with 303. In Total in those criollo championships was a thousand 452 times at bat, with 390 indisputable, 26 homers, 156 RBIs and an average of 269.
-Let’s go to baseball in the big leagues. There is something curious. You are signed by the Giants; however you make your debut in that baseball with the Chicago Cubs.
-It was a change of flannel that came from the minors and in 1958 I start in the big leagues at 22 years old, with the Chicago Cubs next to the immortal Ernie Banks, from whom I always received good advice. After those two seasons I moved to Philadelphia and already in the late stages of my career I played another two years with the Detroit Tigers.
-From your 19 years in the majors, which were the best?
-My 15 seasons with Philadelphia. There I connected most of my 2007 hits, I was the second baseman who lasted the longest in that position in the franchise, until recently I broke the brand. I made unforgettable plays on defense like that one caught in which I saved a perfect game for Jim Bunning. Philadelphia was like my house, since I lived there for 25 years and I felt the affection of those fans everywhere. I was in that organization, also, 18 years as a coach.
Perhaps out of modesty mentioned with emphasis those defensive plays, however, offensively only four Cubans of the 206 who have passed through a field of major leagues until this year 2018 have been able to hit more than two thousand untraceable and one is Tony Taylor. The others are Rafael Palmeiro (3020), Atanasio «Tany» Pérez (2732) and the also Yumurino Dagoberto «Bert» Campaneris, (2249).
-I think that is one of my prides. That’s because of my preparation and the spirit of staying on the ground day by day. On September 27, 1975, when I hit the hit two thousand, I felt very happy to be the first Cuban to achieve it.
October 9th, the third official exaltation took place at the Palmar de Junco Hall of Fame and among the unveiled plaques were those of Tony Taylor, Edmundo Amorós, Ervin Walter, Tomás Soto, Jesús Torriente and Miguel Ángel Domínguez, glories of Cuban baseball .
-It has been a great honor to receive this recognition to which other great players of the province have arrived. Matanzas is the great academy of baseball in Cuba. Appearing my name next to those of Inmortales like Martin Dihigo, José de la Caridad Méndez, Orestes Miñoso, Silvio García, Edmundo Amorós and many others, fills me with pride. Thanks, Matanzas.
Thank you also for Antonio Taylor Sánchez for having put up the name of Cuba.
LABOR OF TONY TAYLOR IN THE GREAT LEAGUES.
He was in 19 campaigns (1958 and 1976). He participated in 2195 games in which he appeared to the batter’s drawer in 8501 opportunities. He was 7680 times official at the bat in which he hit 2007 hits, of them 298 doubles, 86 triples and 75 homers, for an average of 261. He scored 1005 runs and drove in 598. He stole 234 bases and was caught 111 times for a ratio of 71 percent effectiveness. On six occasions he stole home.