Taylor's fall from grace a cautionary tale
Posted March 3, 2012
If you followed baseball at all in 1991, you heard of Brien Taylor.
The number one pick overall in that year’s draft, Taylor was supposed to be the next great Yankees pitcher.
Lefty Gomez, Whitey Ford, Ron Guidry... and Brien Taylor – that’s how it was supposed to read.
But now, two decades later, Taylor’s not preparing for a trip to Cooperstown. He’s sitting in jail – facing charges of cocaine trafficking. Instead of Yankee pinstripes, he’s wearing an orange prison jumpsuit.
It’s a sad chapter in a story of what could have been. Taylor had “can’t-miss” talent.
I remember sitting at a college baseball game that summer, and striking up a conversation with a big league scout. I asked him about Taylor, and he simply shook his head. “There’s nothing to scout,” he said. Then he described the best high school pitcher he’d ever seen.
Taylor received a then-record signing bonus of $1.55 million from the Yankees, the result of a tense negotiation during which he threatened to enroll at Louisburg Junior College if the Yankees didn’t cave.
They caved. And Taylor seemed to be on his way until he injured his shoulder in a bar fight. He was never the same pitcher, and a can’t-miss career missed.
Nearly a dozen years ago, I got in touch with Taylor for a story. He was working in Raleigh, taking classes at a community college, and playing in an amateur baseball league “for the love of the game.”
He didn’t seem bitter. Actually, he came across as a man at peace with the hand he had been dealt. He told me he had invested his signing bonus, and was living comfortably.
A few years later, Taylor was back at home in Beaufort. He was living with his parents, and things didn’t appear to be going as well..
And now this...
There’s something especially poignant when a person who has everything going for them loses it all. Taylor was on top of the world in 1991, bound for stardom. Now it’s all gone.
We can all learn a lesson from this: Never take anything for granted, and always remember every action has a consequence. We need only look at Brien Taylor to remember that.