(September 2, 2015)
Centenary graduate carves out a life in baseball
Mandy '02 and Ben Taylor '03
SHREVEPORT, LA —From the River Cities, to the "Last Frontier" of Alaska, the "Grand Canyon State," China, and many locales in the lower 48 states, Centenary College graduate Ben Taylor '03 has enjoyed an interesting career as a baseball coach and professional scout.
It all began for Taylor on the diamond for the Gents at the turn of the millennium. To this day, Centenary is still a special place for Ben and his wife Mandy '02.
"The College is such a special place. The motto, Labor Omnia Vincit, sums it all up," said Taylor. "It"s a place where you are really challenged in so many ways. People care about you and help you, but it also gives you the freedom to find yourself and figure things out for yourself. Centenary teaches you how to think."
"I'm still learning from my Centenary experience to this day," Taylor added.
While still a student at the College in the spring of 2002, Taylor received a phone call offering him a position as an assistant baseball coach at Shreveport's Captain Shreve High School. Little did he know, it would change his life forever.
"I had done nothing with baseball the year prior, and to this day, I still don't know how they got my number!" recalled Taylor. "After my first day, I never wanted to get off the field, and I can't see myself ever doing so. I am a coaching lifer. I'll be on the field until the end. It's who I am, and it is what I am: I'm a baseball guy, and I wouldn't have it any other way."
After more than a decade of coaching, one of Taylor's most rewarding stints as a head coach has been with the city of Palmer's Matsu Miners of the Alaska Baseball League (ABL). The ABL boasts numerous great prospects, as Taylor can attest.
The Matsu Miners play at their field in Palmer, Alaska.
Three of the top-90 players and 12 men total selected in this year's MLB Draft donned the Miners' logo in summers past.
"The ABL is one of the oldest and most tradition-rich leagues in the country. Other than Cape Cod, it is the best summer league. It's a chance to coach a few of the best players in the nation," said Taylor. "But it's more than that. This is the Mat-Su Valley's team. We have amazing fans, and my wife and I have made lifelong friends here. I love the outdoors, so Palmer is such an awesome place to be for the summer months."
Despite the great scenery and the wonderful times, Taylor still has a job to do in Alaska. He does not take this lightly, as the Matsu Miners made their third-straight appearance in 2015 in the "Top of the World Series" between the best two teams in the ABL.
"We unfortunately came up short this summer," explained Taylor. "But, we did have a historical season by going 35-13 and setting numerous milestones along the way. Many of the old-timers around our park said this was the best Miners team ever!"
Taylor spent most of the 2000's as a scout: for the San Diego Padres from 2003-05, for the Tampa Bay Rays from 2006-07, and for the Milwaukee Brewers from 2007-10. He currently serves as an associate scout for the Kansas City Royals. This season, the Royals hold the best record in the American League after participating in the 2014 World Series.
Prior to 2014, the Royals were near the bottom of the MLB on numerous occasions after winning the 1985 Fall Classic.
"Any help I will have had in the Royals turnaround, which is minimal, will be when some of my guys in the minors crack that big league door," stated Taylor. "Several players are pretty close! I had my first two former players get to the big leagues this year (one with the Yankees and the other with the Mariners), and I can't wait to see who is next."
However, the multitude of experiences for Taylor is not limited to just the United States. Since 2005, he has served as the Chinese National Baseball Team catching coordinator. He also currently serves as the hitting instructor for Chandler-Gilbert Community College, a position Taylor also held at Scottsdale Community College from 2002-2009.
"I have been very fortunate to have had multiple experiences within this beautiful game," said Taylor. "I enjoy having the diverse background that helps me relate to players. I am also able to draw from previous knowledge gained to tackle the day-to-day things that pop up as a baseball coach and in everyday life."
Finally, Taylor has a message for all Centenary graduates in their future endeavors.
"Keep hustling and working. Life will never be on your timetable, but if you work hard, try to do right and be upfront with others, great opportunities will come your way."