Chuck Taylor remembered as great athlete

Susan Harber, The Daily News Journal, November 5, 2018

When I reflect on a current baseball success story from our county, I immediately think of Sonny Gray, pitcher for the New York Yankees, who attended Smyrna High with my children.

Yet another sensation of the mid-20th century will rest in our memory as an All Star for all time in Rutherford County.  Chuck Taylor, a Blue Raider right-handed pitcher and a right-handed batter in the late 1960s, was one of the most successful athletes in MTSU history.

He was the second MTSU baseball legend after Jim Cosman to reach the Major Leagues.  From 1969 to 1976, he played as relief pitcher for the St Louis Cardinals, New York Mets, Milwaukee Brewers, and Montreal Expos.  In all, he logged 7 years in Majors as an invaluable champion.  His six baseball cards are all favorites of mine.

Charles Gilbert Taylor was born in Shelbyville to Robert and Mable Prince Taylor on April 18, 1942, in the midst of World War II.  He died in Murfreesboro on June 5, 2018.  His siblings are Don, Frank, John Thomas and Sarah.  He was preceded in death by his brother Russell and sister Betty Jane.

Chuck and wife, Joyce Hill Taylor, had a son, Chris Taylor, who is wed to Dr. Libby Long Taylor, of whom many know in Murfreesboro as an excellent pediatrician.

Chuck grew up in the Bedford/Rutherford County area where he was an outstanding athlete, standing at 6 feet 2 inches.  He graduated from Bell Buckle High School in Wartrace in 1960 and excelled in baseball. His biggest memory of that era was striking out Christiana High’s best batter four times in one game.

After resounding achievements with MTSU baseball, Chuck was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1961 as an amateur free agent.  On May 27, 1969, Chuck made his professional debut at 27 years old with the Cardinals and played ball with this team until 1971.  He also played in earnest for the New York Mets (1972), Milwaukee Brewers (1972) and the Montreal Expos from 1973 until his final game Oct. 3, 1976.

Chuck’s win-loss record was 28-20 and his earned run average was 3.07, along with 31 saves in his career. He achieved a total of 305 Major League games and started in 21 games.  In 607 innings, he walked 162 batters and struck out 282.

As a batter himself, he hit .158 in 101 bats and had 16 hits that included four doubles and one triple.  He struck out 34 times and walked only for three games.  The year 1974 was his best season in his Major League career.  He pitched for eight seasons, primarily for the Cardinals and Expos.

In retirement, Chuck returned home to Murfreesboro and was visible in activities on campus of his alma mater.  “Big Chuck” was an effective presence at MTSU where he worked with pitchers and taught players incredible skills on his own time.  Today, the players’ locker room and Clubhouse is named the “Chuck Taylor Locker Room.”  Chuck is a member of the Blue Raider Hall of Fame.

Chuck and Joyce, as a team, raised large amounts of money for baseball at MTSU. T hey further purchased a Western Auto/Ace Hardware Store in Smyrna that they operated for 10 years.

Chuck was known in our community as a friendly and fun individual with an avid zest for daily living.  He would often travel a long, extra mile for an individual in need.  He was regularly playing golf at Stones River Country Club.

An annual fundraiser, Chuck Taylor Golf Tournament, continues today for student/athlete scholarships at MTSU.  Chuck had a heart attack in 1991, and his health weakened over time.  He was also afflicted with knee injuries from his baseball career and suffered through pain long-term.

At age 76, Chuck succumbed to his final base run with a Celebration of Life at the Stones River Country Club where he played golf day by day.  In his passing, fundraising continued to the end, as donations were accepted as a memorial to the MTSU Foundation.  Chuck was both a great athlete for baseball and a great man for our community.

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