A 2002 inductee into the Phillies Wall of Fame, Tony Taylor died this morning 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.
He enjoyed a 19-year major league career, playing for the Cubs (1958-60), Phillies (1960-71; 1974-76) and Detroit Tigers (1971-73). A 1960 National League All-Star, he batted .261 with 298 doubles, 86 triples, 75 home runs, 598 RBI, 1,005 runs and 234 stolen bases in 2,195 career games. Taylor posted 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 ever 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 all-time in Phillies history.
“Tony was undeniably one of the most popular Phillies of his or any other generation,” said Phillies Managing Partner John Middleton. “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.”
On Sept. 27, 1975, at Veterans Stadium, he collected his 2,000th career hit. 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 fielding percentage. His 1,003 games at second base with the Phillies are second-most in franchise history, trailing only Chase Utley (1,453). In 1963, Taylor led all NL second basemen with a .986 fielding 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. A perennial fan favorite, Taylor was celebrated with nights in his honor at both Connie Mack Stadium and Veterans Stadium.
Following 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 also a manager in Philadelphia’s minor league system from 1982 through 1987, except for 1984, when he was the club’s roving minor league instructor. Additionally, he 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 Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981 and the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame in 2004.
Taylor is survived by his wife, Clara, and his children.
Funeral services are pending. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked donations be made to the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Foundation, 3329 Johnson Street, Hollywood, Fla., 33021.