Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Hall of Fame for a baseball mogul

         The news came across Facebook on Sunday night, and it made me smile (and re-post): Taylor Moore has been selected for the Texas League Hall of Fame.
        My comment, on the original post and my re-post: "Tremendous! Taylor was the second 'Mr. Baseball' in Shreveport; the first was longtime Sports owner Bonneau Peters. Not only is Taylor a gentleman and a family man, he's been a great friend over a lot of years."
        Here is an additional comment: This is a great achievement for a mogul.
       Yes, a mogul.
       OK, so I had to look up the definition. Here is the one that fit: "an important, powerful, or influential person."
       That's Taylor.
       He will laugh at this because it's an inside joke, something we've joked about for years and years. I don't remember the exact circumstance, but I think in a conversation one day, Taylor remarked that he always like a newspaper or magazine story that referred to a person as a "mogul."
       So now you know why I've referred to him as a mogul from that day on.
       Taylor, who is my age and was my friend for years before he got involved in pro baseball, is a modest guy, so he also will laugh at the thought of being regarded as "important, powerful, influential."
       I think he was just happy to be the operator/majority owner of Shreveport's Texas League team from 1976 to 1999, happy to be a big part of keeping the pro game in town for that long. Because he loves baseball and he loves Shreveport-Bossier.
       When he and his ownership group sold the team after the 1999 season, it lasted three more years in Shreveport. Independent teams followed for nine years, but that wasn't like having a Class AA team affiliated with a major-league parent club.
      Now the ballpark that was home to the Captains -- and other nicknames (Swamp Dragons and Sports) -- for 26 years sits idly, and sadly, on the Fairgrounds next to Interstate 20 and just down from Independence Stadium, and it's a decaying facility.
       A little more than two years ago, I wrote about pro ball in Shreveport, and what it meant to many of us (http://nvanthyn.blogspot.com/2012/06/sports-and-captains-made-our-summers.html). Taylor Moore, like me, was one of those kids who relished those days.
       Keeping the team in Shreveport -- and losing money while attendance was minuscule (200, 300, 400 fans on many nights) -- until the city officials finally found a way to get the new ballpark (Fair Grounds Field) built was the crowning achievement of Taylor's ownership days. The three Texas League championships that followed (1990, 1991, 1995) -- ending a Shreveport title drought of 35 years -- were gravy.
       It was the opening of the ballpark, and the interest in the team and sport it generated in its first year, that was the crux of my story for the Shreveport Journal in January 1987 when we named Taylor as our "Sportsman of the Year" for '86. The top half of that clipping is what you see at the top of the page.
       So I'm pleased to be writing about him again. To be honest, before Sunday night, I did not realize there is a Texas League Hall of Fame.
       Doing my usual diligent research -- about five minutes -- I found that it has been in existence since 2004; Taylor is part of the 11th class selected. And among the 121 inductees, there are only a few with Shreveport credentials.
       There are Ken Guettler, the 62-home run man of 1956, and George Ferran, who won the TL Triple Crown of pitching (wins -- 16-1 record, ERA, strikeouts) in 1986. A few spent one or two seasons with Shreveport, including Homer Peel, hitter extraordinaire, 1939-40, and Grant Dunlap, first baseman of the 1951-52 Sports.
      That's not nearly enough Shreveport representation. Darned right, I'm biased.
      For some reasons -- and I find it inexplicable -- Bonneau Peters is not in this Hall of Fame. He was one of baseball's most respected minor league owner/operators for three decades. Yes, it was a different era, an all-white era, but that's not kept anyone out of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
       There are two title-winning Shreveport managers: Francis "Salty" Parker, who played in the league for nine years and manager for nine (eight with the Sports) and Mel McGaha, who played eight years in the league and manager for four of those (with two championship Sports teams).
       There is pitcher Billy Muffett, who on his way to the big leagues and a World Series appearance and then a longtime pitching-coach career, had three really good seasons in his four full TL years (including a 1955 no-hitter in the playoffs for the Sports). Ev Joyner, a Shreveport favorite and longtime resident, had three strong seasons in 1954-56 (he hit .328, .294 and .344, with 116 doubles, 19 triples, 37 homers and 243 RBIs). 
       And I can provide a half-dozen others who had at least one Hall of Fame-caliber season for Shreveport.
      There are several radio announcers in the TL Hall of Fame; Dave Nitz broadcast Captains games in the TL for 14 years, has 33 years as a play-by-play guy in pro ball (and still active) -- and he's a good one.
      So, attention Tom Kayser, Texas League president. Trying to give you some suggestions.
      But I don't mean to take away from our man of this year, Taylor Moore. This is an honor which he certainly deserves. He did a wonderful job with the team; he did it in a graceful and thoughtful manner; and -- as Kayser noted in the story announcing the selections -- he always had the best interest of the league in mind.
       And he's a mogul. Now everyone knows that.


  1. From Pesky Hill: Made me think a little. I had a few favorites of my own when I caught batting practice for the (Shreveport) Braves during the summer of 1968. How about Walt Hriniak, Cito Gaston and Ralph Garr! And (manager) Charlie Lau was really nice to me as a kid with aspirations of playing pro ball. There are many others that I have overlooked.

  2. From Tim Looney: Congratulations, Taylor! And well deserved!

  3. From Ike Futch: Didn't know Taylor but sure enjoyed your article about him. Let me know if Mel McGaha gets nominated. I can help you with some things about him.

  4. From Bud Dean: That was a good thing that happened. Tell him congratulations from me.

  5. From Jack Thigpen: I saw your blog on Taylor -- I miss the minor league team being in Shreveport. Used to go to games when we were in Bossier City and would drive over a few times a year when we were in Ruston. Phillip and I would go over and sit in the radio booth with Dave Nitz. Phillip really loves baseball and really enjoyed doing that.

  6. From Jim Oakes: Loved your blog piece on Taylor Moore. He certainly deserves to be in the Texas League Hall of Fame for what he did for professional baseball in Shreveport. What a good man!
    I was visiting with Sam Wilkinson this morning about your piece and he told me he was a bat boy for Salty Parker and Mel McGaha with the Sports. He recalled the days in the Texas League when Louisiana had a law prohibiting black players from playing with whites. Sam said visiting teams with black players would check into the Captain Shreve Hotel and send their black players to stay in black neighborhoods until the end of the series. Hard to believe.

  7. From Tom Kayser, Texas League president: Great piece. Taylor was really surprised and thrilled when I told him of his election. I hope I can give him his commemorative artwork in person.