Vernon Charles `Pete' Taylor, 75, pitched briefly for St. Louis Browns

November 24, 2003|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

Vernon Charles "Pete" Taylor, who pitched briefly for the Orioles' major-league predecessor, the St. Louis Browns, during a 12-year career in professional baseball, died of a stroke Nov. 17 at North Arundel Hospital.

He was 75 and lived in Severna Park.

Mr. Taylor was born and raised in Severn, and by his sophomore year at Glen Burnie High School he was considered a standout on the mound.

"When he was in high school, he had a great curve, and as he developed, he got a great fastball," said Albert "Ding" Praley, a longtime friend from Glen Burnie.

He was signed in 1945 by the Orioles, which were then a minor-league affiliate of the old St. Louis organization. The Browns moved to Baltimore and became the American League Orioles in 1954.

The 170-pound right-hander spent 12 years pitching professionally, reaching the majors during the 1952 season, according to the Baseball Almanac. His only major-league appearance came on May 2, 1952, when he walked three batters and gave up four hits in two innings, according to the almanac.

Mr. Taylor had better luck in the minor leagues. He was voted most valuable player of the Class B Colonial League in 1946 after going 11-3 for Poughkeepsie, N.Y. In 1948, he won 10 games and pitched 250 innings for Wilkes-Barre, Pa., of the Class A Eastern League. He worked his way up to the Orioles, then in the Class AAA International League, and won four games one season, according to his family. His minor-league career included a career-high 12-strikeout game against Toronto and a three-hitter with Oklahoma City in the Southern League in 1954, they said.

"He worked his way up by working hard and getting to know the game of baseball," Praley said.

Mr. Taylor seldom bragged about his abilities on the mound. But he enjoyed telling stories about life in professional baseball. The stories included the way the Browns prepared for hitters like Ted Williams.

When the Browns went to Boston, "the manager went through each hitter and how to pitch to them, but when he got to Williams, he just skipped right over him because with Williams, there just wasn't any good way to pitch to him," Mr. Praley said.

Friends described Mr. Taylor as quiet and honest.

"He would never do anything to try to put one over on you. I know because I bought a used car from him," said Dolores Graham, a high school friend who introduced Mr. Taylor to his wife.

Mr. Taylor was a 1944 graduate of Glen Burnie High School.

During World War II, he joined the Army and trained at Fort Bragg, N.C., and with a mountain climbing unit in Camp Carson, Colo. But the war ended, and he was honorably discharged before being shipped overseas.

After leaving the Army, Mr. Taylor worked briefly as a civilian mechanic in the motor pool at Fort Meade. When he quit baseball in the 1956, he found work selling cardboard boxes to department stores.

Mr. Taylor married the former Pat R. Rommel in 1959 and they moved to Millersville, where Mr. Taylor worked as a salesman for several years for Potomac Corrugated Box Co. in Baltimore.

In 1968 he and two partners opened a business, Atlas Corrugated Box, on Camp Meade Road in Odenton. The company was sold in 1988.

He was an avid golfer and was Anne Arundel County Senior Golf Champion for 1989 and 1990.

He was a member of the Anne Arundel County Sports Hall of Fame and the Maryland Professional Baseball Players Association, a group that sponsors dinners and other events for former players.

He also enjoyed attending Bible fellowship studies, and in his later years spent winters in Florida.

Mr. Taylor was active in two churches - Baldwin Memorial United Methodist Church in Crownsville, where he sang in the choir, served on the board of trustees and helped raise funds for church projects, and Severna Park Evangelical Presbyterian Church, where he sang in the choir.

"He spent a major part of his life dedicated to his church," his wife said.

Services were Friday.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Sandra Peterson of Mandeville, La.; a son, Eric C. Taylor of Severna Park; a sister, Sylvia Solley of Wilmington, N.C.; and four grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be made to Severna Park Evangelical Presbyterian Church, 110 Ritchie Highway, Pasadena 21122, or the American Cancer Society, 1041 Route 3 North, Gambrills 21054.

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