For those not already impressed with Nolan Ryan’s ownership and handling of the Texas Rangers, look no further than the story of Jonathan Taylor. It’s surprising that this story has only received minimal coverage considering it encompasses everything beautiful and heartbreaking about sports and about baseball.
In a split second Jonathan Taylor went from a Major League prospect to a cautionary tale for outfielders and players everywhere. Taylor, a junior left-fielder for the Georgia Bulldogs, was partially paralyzed March 6, 2011 in a collision with with teammate Zach Cone.
Yet even as Taylor begins a long road of rehabilitation, as he struggles to re-teach his body things it’s done for years, as he learns his new normal, there is reason to celebrate. While the game that Taylor loves took so much from him; his legs, his career, his hopes and dreams; the Texas Rangers were able to give a little back. They drafted him in the 33rd Round of the First-Year Player Draft. (Of note, the Rangers also drafted Taylor’s teammate, Zach Cone, who was involved in the fateful collision)
In drafting Taylor, the Rangers made more than a simple gesture. He may never walk again, but his life will go on. He will be able to look back on his life and tell his children and grandchildren of how he was so good a Major League team drafted him even when he couldn’t use his legs. He will be able to relive his glory days with the knowledge that he made it. He was a Pro.
This is a story of commitment, honor, and doing the right thing. The Texas Rangers have long had their eye on Jonathan Taylor. They had always planned to draft him. A life-changing injury didn’t stop that plan. The Rangers gave Taylor a gift no doctor could ever give.
Jonathan Taylor will go on. Baseball will go on. But in one touching moment the sport that took so much was able to help him heal, even if just a little bit.