In his baseball career Larry Taylor was fortunate to play with some easily-recognizable names: Roger Craig (Dodgers), Joe Cunningham (Cardinals), Joe Landrum (Dodgers), Roy Pardue (Nashville), Pig House (Tigers), Bubba Phillips (Tigers), Haywood Sullivan (Red Sox), and Willie Mays.
Assigned to Fort Jackson, South Carolina, during his military service from 1952 through 1954, Larry remembers playing on a great team and against great players, one of whom was a very special player.
“Willie Mays was on an opposing team while I was in the service. Every time Willie came to bat with men on base, we walked him. We won the two games played.”
A basketball and baseball star at Rockwell High School, Larry earned his degree at Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina, where he played basketball for four years and baseball for three years.
Area summer leagues set his baseball career in motion, as he played for Rockwell Mill, Windsor, and Hamlett teams in his home state of North Carolina. Signing with Cincinnati in 1950, he was sent to Columbia in the South Atlantic League for the 1951 season and 1952 seasons.
Of Larry’s eight professional minor league seasons, four of them were in Nashville where he was primarily a second baseman. From 1955 through July of 1958, Larry played on teams that included teammates Bobby Hazle, Jim O’Toole, Tommy Brown, Dick Sisler, Jay Hook, and Buddy Gilbert.
Baseball took Larry to several cities while playing in the Sally League, Southern Association, California League, and Western Carolina League, a Class D league that Branch Rickey set up. He played or coached in Columbia, Columbus, Jacksonville, Memphis, Atlanta, Chattanooga, Little Rock, and of course Nashville’s famous Sulphur Dell.
Larry met his wife Betty Jane while playing in Nashville. In July of 1958, Larry left Nashville and moved to Visalia, California as player-coach. Visalia was in the Class C California League.
In 1959 Larry played for Hester Battery in Nashville’s Tri-State League. The team won the state tournament. Later that year Larry began a 15-year career coaching basketball, baseball and teaching at Berry College near Rome, Georgia.
Larry returned to professional baseball for one additional season as coach of the Class D Salisbury, North Carolina team in 1960. He played in 66 games in the dual role of player-coach and finished his career with a .260 batting average.
After his retirement from Berry College in 1974, Larry and Betty Jane returned to Nashville.