Mr. Robert Dale “Hawk” Taylor, 73, of Murray, KY died Saturday, June 9th at 2:44 pm at Western Baptist Hospital in Paducah, KY.
Mr. Taylor was born April 3rd, 1939 in Metropolis, IL. He was a 1957 graduate of Metropolis Community High School and received his BS and MS degrees from Murray State University.
Hawk enjoyed a 14 year career in professional baseball, 9 ½ of those years were spent in the Major Leagues. He was a highly sought after high school prospect and signed his first professional contract with the Milwaukee Brave for a near record sum at the time, becoming one of baseball’s first “Bonus Babies”. After graduating from Metropolis High School, he was sent directly to the major leagues, joining the Braves on the road at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, NY. The 1957 Milwaukee Braves went on to defeat the NY Yankees and become World Series champions. In addition to winning a World Series ring, Hawk’s teammates from the ’57 team included Hall Of Famers Hank Aaron, Warren Spahn, Eddie Mathews, and Red Schoendienst. Hawk’s notable roommates during his years with the Braves included Joe Torre and Bob Uecker. He passed away on the 55th anniversary of his major League debut.
His professional career was briefly interrupted in 1961 when he served in the US Army during the Berlin crisis.
Hawk was traded to the NY Mets in 1964 and played for the Mets from 1964 thru 1967. His Mets career was highlighted by hitting the first ever pinch hit grand slam homerun in Mets history, going 5 for 5 in a game against the Houston Astros, hitting a 3 run home run off Sandy Koufax, playing left field for the Mets when Jim Bunning threw his perfect game, and catching Tom Seaver’s first professional game.
He was traded to the California Angels in July of 1967 and remained in the Angel organization until the end of the 1968 season. He was selected in the Kansas City Royal expansion draft in December 1968 where he played through 1970. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox in 1971 and was playing for the Louisville Colonels when a back injury prematurely ended his career.
After his playing days ended, Hawk enjoyed coaching stints at MSU, Lambuth, and Paducah Community College.
Hawk was given his nickname as a youngster after his favorite movie serial, “Hawk of the Wilderness.”
His favorite player and “hero” was Ted Williams and he proudly owned many Ted Williams endorsed products.
Hawk was a gun enthusiast and an avid collector. He lived life to its fullest and had many passions. They included hunting, fishing, and hiking, enjoying the outdoors, and entertaining friends/family on the Taylor pontoon. In addition to just about any baseball field, his favorite places included KY Lake and his beloved gravel pit, affectionately known as “Hawk Lake.”
Hawk’s love for baseball and the outdoors was only rivaled by his love of music. He enjoyed all types of music but listening to his wife, Marie, play the piano was at the top of his list. He frequently attended MSU Music Deptment Concerts, the Paducah Symphony, as well as enjoying Opera, especially Wagner and Puccini.
He loved to talk baseball and over the years entertained countless number of baseball fans with stories from his playing days. He continued receiving autograph requests through the mail.
Hawk was a loving son, husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, nephew, friend, and coach, but he took special delight in his two grandsons. He was a very caring, generous, hospitable, and genuine person who made all those around him feel special.
Survivors include his loving and devoted wife of 49 years, Marie Holifield Taylor. Two sons, Bruce Carter Taylor of Murray and Samuel Vance Taylor and special friend, Dee Dee Diefenbach of Puryear, TN. Two grandsons, Robert Devin Taylor and Jacob Carter Taylor of Summerville, SC. Three sisters, Sue Barfield, husband Charles, and Carol Taylor of Metropolis and Jo Ellen Taylor of Las Vegas, NV. One brother, John “Bubber” Taylor, of Metropolis and several cousins, nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents Vance “Flop” and Velma Taylor of Metropolis.
The family requests, in lieu of flowers, donations to the Marie Holifield Taylor Scholarship – Check made out to MSU Foundation, Marie Holifield Taylor in the memo; mail to MSU Office of Development, 106 Development Center, Murray, KY 42071 or to the Calloway County and Murray High School Baseball programs, % US Bank, 1111 Main Street, Murray, KY 42071.
Visitation will be held in Murray on Saturday, June 16, at the First United Methodist Church, 503 Maple Street in Murray from 2 – 4 p.m. with the service to follow. Everyone is invited to a reception at the Robert O. Miller Conference Center, located nearby at 201 S. 4th St.
Condolences can be left at,www.thejhchurchillfuneralhome.com