Former Philadelphia Phillies standout Tony Taylor died Thursday, July 16, 2020, following complications of a stroke suffered in 2019. He was 84.
Antonio Nemesio Taylor was born on Dec. 19, 1935, in Central Alava, Cuba. Originally signed by the New York Giants in 1954, he was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 1957 Rule 5 Draft and made his major league debut in 1958 at the age of 22. In May 1960, Taylor was traded to the Phillies.
Taylor had a great 19-year major league career, playing for the Cubs (1958-60), Phillies (1960-71; 1974-76) and Detroit Tigers (1971-73). Taylor, a 1960 National League All-Star, batted .261 with 298 doubles, 86 triples, 75 home runs, 598 RBI, 1,005 runs and 234 stolen bases in 2,195 career games. He had six seasons with 20 or more steals, and his 124 stolen bases were fifth-most in the majors from 1958-63.
In 15 seasons with the Phillies, “TT,” as he was referred to by teammates and fans, batted .261 with 219 doubles, 63 triples, 51 home runs, 461 RBI, 737 runs, 169 stolen bases and a .322 on-base percentage in 1,669 games.
Taylor is just one of 12 players to tally 1,500 hits as a Phillie. Among all players in franchise history, he ranks fifth in games, seventh in at-bats (5,799), tied for seventh in singles (1,178) and 10th in hit by pitches (60). Additionally, his 54 pinch hits rank second in Phillies history.
“Tony was undeniably one of the most popular Phillies of his or any generation,” Phillies Managing Partner John Middleton said in a statement. “His baseball talent was second only to his warm and engaging personally, as he would always make time to talk with fans when he would visit Philadelphia for Alumni Weekend.”
Taylor collected his 2,000th career hit on Sept. 27, 1975, at Veterans Stadium. He finished his career with 2,007 hits.
During his career, he played all four infield positions as well as left field. His primary position was second base, where he appeared in 1,498 games (1,385 starts) and posted a .976 field percentage. His 1,003 games at second base with the Phillies are second-most in franchise history, trailing only Chase Utley.
In 1963, Taylor led all National League second basemen with a .986 field percentage. On Father’s Day, June 21, 1964, he made a key play at second base that prevented a hit in the fifth inning of Jim Bunning’s perfect game.
“Growing up as a Phillies fan, my favorite memory of Tony is the remarkable play he made to save Jim Bunning’s perfect game,” Middleton said. 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.”
After his playing career, Taylor served as a major league coach with the Phillies (1977-79; 1988-89) and Florida Marlins (1999-2001; 2004). He was a manager or roving instructor in Philadelphia’s minor league system from 1982 to 1987. He also served as a minor league coach for the San Francisco Giants (1990-92) and a minor league coordinator with the Marlins (1993-99).
Taylor was inducted into the Cuban Hall of Fame in 1981, the Phillies Wall of Fame in 2002 and the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame in 2004.
Taylor is survived by his wife, Clare, and his children.
Funeral services are pending. In lieu of flowers, the family asked that donations be made to the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Foundation, 3329 Johnson St., Hollywood, FL 33021.