Mickey “the Dude” Taylor

Published 12:44 am Friday, April 3, 2020

     He may have been the biggest Bernard King and Ernie Grunfeld fan
there ever was. I don’t know how many times I heard him say, “number 53
Bernard King of the Volunteers.”
     Like most kids growing up in the sixties and seventies, we had a hangout
and Earl’s Grill was about the only place to eat and was in walking distance
of Mickey’s home.
     Mickey was like all of us – we never looked for trouble but sometimes it would
find us and Mickey helped make it happen sometimes.
     My favorite memory of Mickey, not counting the many times we drove to
Myrtle Beach just to jump into the ocean, was a cold winter day.
     About two feet of snow was on the ground and if you went anywhere you had
to walk.
     Jarfly Dugger, the telephone repairman, had come into the grill and was
sitting with his back to the door eating a hamburger when all of a sudden
through the air came a snowball and hit Jar in the back.
     A big laugh came from Mickey as he took off in a run up the hill behind the store.
     Jarfly packed and packed a hand full of ice and snow and when Mickey got about
50 feet away, Jar launched a fastball that knocked Taylor to the ground.
     We thought Jar had killed him.
     Mickey went on to be a great three-sport athlete at Unaka High
     In baseball, he was three times all-conference and was MVP all
three years starting his sophomore season.
     He hit 23 home runs and collected 79 RBI’s.
     Mickey won eight games as a pitcher before becoming Unaka’s full-time catcher.
     His senior season he batted .618 and was selected All-Appalachian Conference,
team MVP, and made District 2-A All-Tournament.
     His opponents stole only two bases on him the entire season.
     He also played football and basketball at Unaka.
     Mickey returned to be the baseball and football coach leading the Rangers for nine
seasons and guiding them to three playoffs in football.
     His 1991 team finished with seven wins – a feat Unaka had not done since 1959.
     Taylor coached Carter County Sports Hall of Famer Jason Brewer, who became an
NCAA Division II All-American at Gardner-Webb, as well as Carter Hall of Fame
classmate Mike “Acey” Ensor (also coached Ensor in baseball).
     In baseball, his teams won several conference titles and district
championships. He had two teams make it to the Regional finals (only
four teams made it back then).
     Former player Adam Taylor said, “Mickey was the best coach ever. He
taught us not just how to play the game the right way but also how to be
a young man.
     “I looked up to him like a second dad. He was and still is a big part of my life
to this day.”
     “One of the best administrators I’ve ever worked for. Always had
the kids best interests at heart. Mickey was a wealth of knowledge for a
young coach and gave his all for the creek,” stated former Ranger Coach
Ryan Nave.
     Tim Bailey, baseball and football coach from North Greene said,
“Mickey and I were both head football and head baseball coaches at the
same time. I always admired the respect Mickey’s players had for him.
     “I remember several instances when Mickey would take off his hat or turn it
to the side in order to chew out a player. This usually was because they
had missed a sign or did something that he knew they knew better.
     “Soon after chewing them out, you could see him loving their necks. I never saw
a third-base coaching box big enough for Mickey.
     “Extra base hits were very exciting watching him wave the players around the bases,”
Bailey continued. “He could also chew out umpires with the best of them.
     “One particular memory from football occurred at North Greene one night. We were
ahead by three with about 20 seconds left to play. Mickey called time out as we were
about to punt.
     “As we lined back up I noticed that he had placed a new returner in a deep position.
It was his best running back. I quickly called time out and replaced my punter with my
fastest runner.
     “We were on our 40-yard line. When the ball was snapped my punter grabbed
the snap and ran backward toward the end zone,” added Bailey.
     “While the Rangers were dropping back, my punter was running time off the clock.
Mickey’s body movements on the opposite sideline was priceless.
     “We ran out the time and gave up a safety as the punter stepped out of the back of
the end zone. As we were about to shake hands I noticed that Mickey had a look that was really
bearing down on me.
     “When we got close enough to shake he also hugged my neck and complimented me
on the play. That meant a lot to me. One of the things I miss most about coaching is all
my good coaching friend buddies from Carter County. Mickey Taylor ranks up there as
one of my favorites.”
     Coach Ronnie Hicks said, “Mickey was one of the best Principals that
I ever worked for. He supported girls sports when it wasn’t popular, and
he backed me as an Athletic Director to the hilt, love that guy.”
     Mickey was inducted into the Carter County Sports Hall of Fame last
year. He is married to the former Becky Revis and they have one son Jordan.

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