Snowbird Bill Taylor drove to Mexico in October with his pickup truck loaded with personal belongings and enough baseball equipment to outfit a couple of little league teams.
Taylor’s not a coach. He’s just a guy who saw an opportunity to do something positive for a group of children and did it.
In began last winter when the retired ironworker, who formerly lived in Wilton, Saratoga County, bought a home in Mazatlan, Mexico. Mazatlan is home to a professional baseball team and many of the boys aspire to play ball themselves. Baseball is more popular than soccer there, Taylor said.
“The house we bought is in a Mexican neighborhood. It’s a great place. The kids practice ball in the streets. The neighbors all know one another,” he said. One of his new neighbors extended an invitation to Taylor to come to the equivalent of a Little League game.
“I got to know a guy whose son played baseball in a children’s league. He invited us to a game and I wanted to do something nice, so I bought two gloves to give to kids at the game,” Taylor said.
He explained that there are two organized leagues in the city, one for the children from poor families and another for the children of wealthy families. Taylor said the poorer families lacked equipment and purchasing a glove, uniform and cleats would be beyond their means.
“I wanted to do something nice for the community. It turned out the game was on Mexican Children’s Day — a celebration for children — and I bought two new gloves to bring to the game. I asked my friend to give them to two kids but he said I should watch the game and decided for myself who should get them,” he said.
“It was a big picnic and my Spanish is not very good. I watched the games. I was struck by how the people cheered for the children, even the children of the opposing team. If someone hit a home run, everyone cheered, not just his teammates, but every parent of both teams. The atmosphere wasn’t competitive. It was very family oriented,” he said.
“It was very difficult to decide who should get the gloves,” he added. Many children approached him telling him they needed a new glove. Taylor was moved by the experience and decided that he would spend the summer searching for baseball gear. “One day a week, usually Friday, I spent cruising garage sales. I knew that if I bought stuff, it would be used,” he added.
His efforts paid off. Taylor gathered dozens of cleats, 47 leather gloves, 150 baseballs, baseball bats, helmets and “anything with a Yankee emblem.” All the items were then cleaned and refurbished.
“Some of the old leather gloves were lying flat in a garage. I used saddle soap to clean them and put a ball inside each one, wrapped each one so it goes back to the right shape,” he said.
“It’s not as easy to find baseball equipment as you would think,” he added. He frequently struck out. But once in a while he scored big.
“I found 50 baseballs at the home of a woman who was at least in her 60s, maybe older. When I looked around at her garage sale, I didn’t expect her to have anything I needed,” he said. But he asked anyway and to his surprise she had baseballs, lots of them.
“It was her old hound dog who collected them. When they went for walk, the dog would go into the woods, find a ball and carry it home. The woman tried to give them back to the team, but they didn’t take them.
“That day I went to other garage sales on the same street and the neighbors would say ‘Oh, I see you bought Daisy’s baseballs.’ Daisy was the dog. That was the funniest thing that happened,” Taylor said.
Taylor also managed to find a dozen left-hand gloves, hard to find for lefties. “It’s just a little thing, but it’s going to make some kids very happy,” Taylor said.
“Baseball is very popular with Mexican kids. They are very aware of the American major league and it is the dream of many young boys to be a major league baseball player,” he said. And it’s Taylor’s dream to help them get the start they need.
If you want to reach Taylor, his e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.