A piece of Hartford baseball history was memorialized in Colt Park on Wednesday as the city held a ribbon cutting to officially open newly renovated Johnny Taylor Field.
"This is magical," said Taylor's daughter Lynette Taylor Grande. "It's absolutely surreal because it has been a long time coming. I would say decades but in the meanwhile, nothing is ever too late, and my dream is that there will just be many, many more children who come behind my dad and take advantage of this beautiful facility and feel very proud to be from Hartford."
A 1934 Bulkeley grad, Taylor once racked up 25 strikeouts in a 9-inning high school game before starring in the Hartford Twilight League and the Negro Leagues. Taylor was also scouted by the Yankees but was passed over because of his race. He went on to play in Mexico and Cuba before eventually integrating pro baseball in Hartford as a member of the Hartford Chiefs.
Taylor's grandson Robert Grande threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Wednesday's field dedication ceremony. Bulkeley/Hartford and Rocky Hill then took the field to play the first game at Johnny Taylor Field.
"(It's) such an inspiration for the kids to know that someone from Hartford made such an impact in baseball," added Bulkeley/Hartford head coach Alex Mercado.
"It's just inspiring on everything to force myself to do better in every position, in everything," said Bulkeley/Hartford sophomore Edgar Santiago.
"The legacy he's left behind is worth millions and millions of dollars because it's his reputation," Lynette Taylor Grande said about her father. "He wasn't only a great baseball player but a great human being."