By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
Former big league pitcher and Toronto Blue Jays doctor Ron Taylor and legendary Windsor, Ont., baseball coach Father Ronald Cullen have been elected to the Baseball Ontario Hall of Fame.
The announcement was made on Wednesday, and Taylor and Cullen will be officially inducted in a virtual awards gala to be held on November 13.
Born in Toronto in 1937, Taylor was convinced by scout Chester Dies to try out for the Cleveland Indians in 1955. By that time, the teenage hurler from the Toronto’s Leaside Baseball Association had been dominating players several years older than him. Taylor impressed at the tryout and the Indians inked him to a deal that included a $4,000 signing bonus.
After several years in the minors, Taylor made one of the most remarkable pitching debuts in major league history, hurling 11 scoreless innings against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on April 11, 1962. Later that year, Taylor was dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals, where he would assume a key bullpen role on the Cards’ 1964 World Series-winning squad. With the Cards trailing 2-1 in that Fall Classic series, Taylor held a Yankee lineup that boasted Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Elston Howard hitless for four innings in relief in Game 4 to preserve a one-run victory.
Taylor found himself in a crucial relief role again with the Miracle Mets in the 1969 World Series. With two out and two men on base in the ninth inning of Game 2, Taylor was summoned to face Brooks Robinson, who grounded out to third base to end the game. In helping the Mets win, Taylor became the only Canadian to win a World Series with two different teams (St. Louis 1964, New York 1969). In total, Taylor pitched seven innings without surrendering a hit in World Series play.
Upon retiring from baseball, Taylor returned to Toronto, where he earned a degree in medicine from the University of Toronto. He would serve as the Toronto Blue Jays’ team doctor for many years. Taylor was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985.
Cullen, who passed away in 2010, will be inducted posthumously. Born in Toronto in 1915, he landed a position at Windsor’s Assumption High School in 1948. He then dedicated over 50 years of service to the city of Windsor. With an approach emphasizing discipline, the iconic sports figure inspired thousands of young football, hockey and baseball players during his venerable coaching career.
Cullen was the bench boss of 13 high school hockey teams that advanced to the All-Ontario championships and helped spur Marc Reaume, Mike Eaves, Murray Eaves and Ed Mio to NHL careers. One of the best amateur baseball coaches in Canadian history, Cullen’s teams almost always vied for city, provincial and national titles.
In 1950, he began coaching in Windsor’s renowned Mic Mac League. He started working with midget-aged players in 1971 and helped hone the skills of several players that became provincial and national stars. Big leaguers Reno Bertoia, Joe Siddall, Stubby Clapp and John Upham are among his prized graduates. Father Cullen was inducted into the Windsor/Essex County Sports Hall of Fame in 1982 and into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.
For more information on the Baseball Ontario Hall of Fame and its past inductees, click here.