The first Mets closer the fans could count on

Tom Seaver greeting Ron Taylor
Tom Seaver greeting Ron Taylor / Jared Wickerham/GettyImages

The New York Mets have had some pretty very good pitchers on the staff…including some equally talented relievers. Tug McGraw, Skip Lockwood, Jesse Orosco, Jeff Reardon, Roger McDowell, John Franco, Armando Benitez, Billy Wagner, Francisco Rodgriguez, and, most recently, Edwin Diaz have all turned in some solid seasons closing games for the Mets.

Some of those guys are more famous, more popular than others. Although Diaz has become a cult hero in recent years, long before him, McGraw was THE Mets cult hero. Tug was a member of those 1969 Miracle Mets but was canonized when he yelled “Ya Gotta BEELIEVE” in 1973. And, regardless of his adoring fans in Philadelphia, he will always be a hero to New York Mets fans.

But, ya know, there was someone who pitched alongside Tug McGraw, someone who was actually the New York Mets closer, and a real good one.

For five seasons from 1967 to 1971 Ron Taylor was the guy in the New York Mets bullpen who got the ball with the game on the line. Let’s be perfectly clear, it wasn’t McGraw who was the closer for the Mets during that time period, but Taylor. It was Taylor who closed out 44 games, saving 14, during that 1969 season, winning another 9 games and pitching to a 2.72 ERA.

The fact is, the Mets didn’t need much relief help in 1969. The Mets threw an astounding 51…that’s FIFTY ONE…complete games that season. But when Taylor was called upon, he was reliable and wasn’t a one-inning pitcher. He tossed 76 innings over 59 appearances. He was perfect in his four appearances in the 1969 post-season, yielding no hits while winning Game 2 of the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves and saving Game 2 of the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles.

The five years he pitched for the Mets would turn out to be the best five seasons of his 11-year career. He won 21 games and saved 50…pitching to a 3.04 ERA. After leaving the Mets, he would pitch four games for the San Diego Padres, before retiring in 1972 to attend medical school at the University of Toronto. Taylor received his medical degree in 1977 and, two years later, began another career in baseball as the team physician for the Toronto Blue Jays.