Catherine R. Taylor, 82, 'ultimate' fan of Orioles baseball and Brady Anderson

April 18, 1996|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Catherine Ruth Taylor, a former Baltimore area resident and "ultimate" Orioles fan who attended the team's first and last game at Memorial Stadium and "a couple of thousand" in between, died Monday of cancer at the home of a son in Virginia Beach, Va. She was 82.

She will be buried today wearing an Orioles' jersey with the No. 9 for Brady Anderson, one of her favorite players. Tucked inside her casket will be a baseball commemorating Cal Ripken's consecutive-game streak and a sandwich bag filled with infield dirt from Orioles Park at Camden Yards.

The games Mrs. Taylor couldn't attend she followed on radio or television; thus, she was a part of literally every Orioles game played since the team came here in 1954, said her son Daniel Kooken of Virginia Beach.

"I always said she knew more about handling a pitcher than any manager," he said. "She could recite the stats of the Orioles teams from the 1954 team on up."

"She adored Brooks [Robinson] and she adored Jim Palmer," he said. "But she also liked the scrappy players like Rick Dempsey and Dick Hall. She really liked all of the Orioles."

Catherine Harn was born and lived in Mount Airy until her family moved to Northwest Baltimore in 1927. She graduated from Forest Park High School in 1931 and a local business school in 1933. She also married Joseph C. Kooken that year. He died in 1957.

She worked at a downtown law firm from 1934 to 1936 and at Martin Marietta Corp. from 1937 to 1940, when she moved to Pennsylvania. She returned to the area in 1947 and lived at several locations in Baltimore and Baltimore County.

In 1972, she married J. Clayton Taylor and the couple lived in Parkville until his death in 1991. She then moved to Towson and in 1994 to Virginia Beach.

Mrs. Taylor's interests weren't confined to baseball. She was director of the children's choir at Sudbrook Methodist Church in Pikesville from 1949 to 1952 and was a soprano soloist at the Messiah United Church of Christ in Northeast Baltimore from 1956 to 1994.

But baseball was her passion even before the major league Orioles came here from St. Louis. While living in Pennsylvania, she often went to Philadelphia for Phillies games, Mr. Kooken said.

"When the Orioles came to town, she was in seventh heaven. She was the ultimate fan," Mr. Kooken said. "She followed them very strictly. She liked the Colts, too. But when they left town, she stopped following football."

Carolyn Quigley, a niece, remembers that Mrs. Taylor took her sons to Oriole games.

"From the time they were small, she started taking them to every game at the stadium," Ms. Quigley said. "Must have been a couple of thousand."

Mrs. Taylor also attended the first game at the new Camden Yards ballpark, Baltimore's first baseball All-Star game in 1958 and its first World Series game in 1966.

Via radio and television, few out-of-town games were missed, either.

"Even if it was tape-delayed and came on at midnight, we'd stay up and watch it at midnight," Mr. Kooken said.

Jennifer Steier, the Orioles' administrative assistant for community relations, said the ballpark's groundskeeper donated the infield dirt that will be buried with Mrs. Taylor.

"It's sad but it's great that we can do something like this," Ms. Steier said.

Services are scheduled for 10 a.m. today at the Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road.

Later today, about 20 family members and friends will attend an afternoon Orioles game against the Boston Red Sox in Mrs. Taylor's honor.

Other survivors include another son, Jac Ttanna of Los Angeles; and five grandchildren.

Pub Date: 4/18/96

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