Monday, June 05, 2006

Brien Taylor -- On a dirt road in Beaufort

That's the answer to the question of "Where is He Now?" -- the most infamous draft pick in New York Yankees history. Brien Taylor the infamous -- a star pitching prospect, who Scott Boras still says is the best high school pitcher he's seen. The man with the left arm of gold . . . until the dumb SOB got involved in a brawl in a trailer park, received a whupping and shredded the labrum in his pitching shoulder -- injuries that Tommy John's surgeon Frank Jobe said were the worst he'd ever seen to that area. Now, he's a footnote in history and his $1.55M signing bonus is merely a memory.

On the eve of the draft that will be the 15th anniversary of when the Yanks drafted Taylor, Jeff Passan (link in title) examines what's happened to the NEXT GREAT PITCHER. Despite Passan's tale of Taylor's sad injury and how his momma had fought the Yankees to get him that huge signing bonus, what Passan does not say speaks loudly.

The portrait is grim: Taylor became a drifter who fathered five out-of-wedlock daughters. He squandered his money so that he now lives in his parents' house off a dirt road dubbed Brien Taylor Lane. The house is dilapidated (paint cracking, fixtures creaking) and outdated (no airconditioning in coastal North Carolina). He works with his dad, Ray Taylor, laying bricks to get some money for his daughters. And all he has left of his baseball career is the black Mustang that he bought with his bonus money.

Taylor's story is not one of how poor blacks triumphed over the rich white Yankees who tried to lowball the star prospect. It's a cautionary tale of how the poor stay poor. Taylor received the $1.55M over two years back in the early 90s. He didn't get his parents a new house in a new area, or car/truck so his dad could set up his own business instead of working for peanuts as a masonry laborer, and he didn't invest the money so it would be there for him if something happened. So what exactly did Boras' advisory services in negotiating the bonus do for them? Fifteen years later, Taylor has a Mustang and a world of regret. He's not even better off now than if he hadn't had a golden arm at all.

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