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Saying goodbye to Ben

January 19, 2012
By RICH GIBSON - Times Leader Sports Writer (rgibson@timesleaderonline.com) , Times Leader

Today, they laid Bellaire's Ben Taylor to rest...though I'm not certain that's entirely possible.

I always marveled how he managed to squeeze 28 hours into the confines of a 24-hour day. Especially during softball season when Coach Ben hit the highway heading for a summer doubleheader.

Ben undoubtedly had a profound impact on the lives of countless young players in addition to his coaching peers. The love was more than evident by a large delegation who gathered at Bellaire's Grisell Funeral Home the past three days.

There, they shared stories of a man whose virtues were many. Ben's dedication, passion and teaching skills were of extraordinary means.

During the season, Ben was an organizer, an innovator, a public relations specialist, a third base coach and an occasional taxi driver.

Eventually, he returned to tranquility base where the love of his life, Jennifer, was always there to learn about "that botched call at second base which totally cost us the game."

As parents, Ben and Jennifer took it to another level. They raised three wonderful children - Alyson, Amy and Ben, each a solid citizen in the finest Taylor tradition.

Amy, now married and a successful girls' hoops' coach at Bucyrus Wynford, was startled Wednesday when a school bus pulled up in front of the funeral home.

Inside were members of Amy's high school team who felt compelled to make a three-and-one half hour, one-way journey to Bellaire to offer their condolences. Sweet.

Oh, how I'll miss Ben's late night calls to the sports desk when, following the formality of a game report, we always made time to talk Buccos, Brownies, Buckeyes and Hokies.

Though a cruel twist of fate threw him the most heart-wrenching curveball imaginable, Ben's courage was remarkable. His legacy will live on. By now, Ben's rounded third and headed for home.

EXTRA BASES

PERHAPS no area coach experienced a closer relationship with Ben Taylor than longtime softball guru Jim DiCarlo, currently at Steubenville Central.

DiCarlo praised Taylor's tireless work for a sport he so loved. "Ben was a true visionary. He founded the East Ohio Girls' Fast Pitch League and started up both the spring and fall leagues," DiCarlo noted.

"It's truly impossible to count the number of kids Ben helped - not only on the field but off it as well. When Ben recognized a specific player's skill level, he went out of his way to assist her in obtaining collegiate assistance. And many earned scholarships because of his persistence. That's how caring and dedicated an individual Ben was."

DiCarlo also lauded Taylor's strong character traits. "Ben was disciplined but also free-spirited. He really excelled teaching fundamentals and proper mechanics. I can say with complete certainty, Ben's players wanted to win games for him. He loved the kids and the kids loved him right back."

Gibson may be reached at rgibson@timesleaderonline.com

 
 

 

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