Feb 26, 2016

Early Sixties Mets Reserve Catcher: Sammy Taylor (1962-1963)

Samuel Douglas Taylor was born on February 27, 1933 in Woodruff South Carolina. The six foot two, left hand hitting catcher was signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1956. After two seasons in their minor leagues he was traded along with Taylor Phillips, to the Chicago Cubs for Eddie Haas, Don Kaiser and Bob Rush.

 Taylor became the Cubs regular catcher in 1959, batting .269 with a career high 13 HRs, 13 doubles & 43 RBIs. In June of the 1959 he was involved in a strange play while behind the plate.

The legendary Stan Musial walked on a ball four, wild pitch that got past Taylor. He argued the call, saying Musial had foul tipped the ball as it rolled to the backstop. Musial ran to second, Alvin Dark ran to the backstop to retrieve the ball. The ball wound up in the hands of the field announcer, a new ball was taken, and thrown into the outfield.

As Musial tried for third; the old ball was retrieved then thrown to third base where Ernie Banks tagged out Musial. Behind the plate that season, he caught 109 games and committed a league leading ten errors. 

In 1960, he was a second string catcher behind Ed Tappe, batting only .207 in 74 games. The next season, Dick Bertell took over as the Cubs main catcher, with Taylor as a aback up seeing action in 89 games; batting .238. On April 26, 1962 he got traded to the expansion New York Mets for Bobby Gene Smith. Taylor arrived at the Polo Grounds where the young Mets had played just 14 games in the team's history. At that point they were 2-12 already 8 1/2 games back. 


On April 28th he appeared as a pinch hitter drawing a walk in a 8-6 loss to the Phillies. In his second game as a Met, Taylor got a hit. driving in a run, in a rare '62 Mets 8-0 win, also over the Phillies. On May 19th, he helped spark an 8th inning, four run Mets rally, as he singled in a run, off Milwaukee's Lew Burdette. Hot Rod Kanehl came in to run for him & scored the winning run on a Jim Hickman sac fly. 

Eleven of his twenty RBIs came in the month of June, when he saw the most playing time (21 games) getting 13 hits, including a four game hit streak. On July 7th, Taylor had a big day, hitting HRs in both ends of a doubleheader at the Polo Grounds, in games against the St. Louis Cardinals. In the first game he hit a sixth inning solo shot off Larry Jackson, which was the first run in the Mets 4-3 win. In the second game he hit another solo shot, this one off Ray Washburn, although the Mets lost the game 3-2. It would be the last HR of Taylor's career & he would finish with just three on the season. 

In July he went down with injury missing over a month of time, returning at the end of September. He spent the season in a revolving door of New York Mets catchers who tried out for a regular job in that position.

Included in the cast were; Chris Cannizzaro, Choo Choo Coleman, Joe Pignatano, Hobie Landrith & Harry Chiti. Overall in 68 games Taylor hit .222 but led all the weak hitting catchers with three HRs & twenty RBIs. In 56 games behind the plate he threw out 33% of base runners attempting to steal & posted a .992 fielding %. 

In 1963 he didn't get to the Mets club until late May, & would see action in 22 games through June, batting .257 with six RBIs. On July 1st he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds along with Charlie Neal, for another catcher; Jesse Gonder.

After one month there, Taylor was sent to the Cleveland Indians for Gene Green. He played just four games in Cleveland & spent the next two seasons in the minor leagues before retiring from the game. 

Taylor finished his brief six season playing in 473 lifetime game, hitting .245 with 309 hits 33 HRs 47 doubles, 147 RBIs & a .313 on base %.

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