Taylor looks to try on Cubs helmet

By Chris Sigley

From the “Wishbone Wizard” to the “Second Base Sorcerer”?

While the NIU football season came to a close last Saturday, Huskie Wishbone quarterback Marshall Taylor is still taking hits…in the batting cage, that is.

Taylor, who has interested scouts from the Chicago Cubs and the Philadelphia Phillies since his high school days in Detroit, will attend spring tryouts in Schaumburg as a prospect for the Cubs.

If Taylor is successful with the Cubs, he won’t be the first one in his family to make it in the big leagues. His cousin, Gates Brown, played for the Detroit Tigers between 1965-1975, and played in the ‘68 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Following his years as a player, Brown became batting coach for the Tigers and now holds the same position for the California Angels.

Taylor, who has always looked up to Brown, kept in touch with the Chicago scouts throughout his stay at NIU with hopes of becoming a baseball player. However, he also had another inside connection to help him get a chance to play professional baseball when football season ended.

“Marshall came to me during the season and asked if I could help him get a tryout,” said NIU football coach Jerry Pettibone. “I knew of an area scout (Earl Hansen, associate scout for the Chicago Cubs) who said he would be interested in him (Taylor) after football season was over.”

However, Taylor hasn’t totally given up on football as a possibility for a post-college career. While he has aspirations to play for either the San Diego Chargers or San Francisco 49ers, Taylor wants first to learn the ins and outs of picking an agent.

“Right now, a lot of (football) agents are trying to get in touch, and they want to represent me,” Taylor said. “It’s really surfaced as to what I know about agents. Coach Pettibone is going to explain it to us and let us know what to expect. Until then, I’m just going to wait and be patient.”

Taylor is waiting to see if he needs to make a choice between football and baseball—a choice he didn’t realize he had to make five years ago. When Taylor signed to play football as a freshman in 1984, before being “abandoned” by then-NIU head coach Lee Corso, he also had plans of playing on the baseball team (until he found out the NIU baseball team was nonexistent).

“When I was coming out of high school, I was so interested in a football scholarship, I really didn’t get around to asking about baseball,” Taylor said. “I just knew they (NIU) had one (baseball team).”

Taylor wasn’t the only one who discovered NIU’s baseball team was obsolete. His roommate and teammate from the football team, senior Rodney Taylor, also signed with NIU in hopes of playing baseball in the spring. (The Houston Astros have invited Rodney to try out with them this spring). But he, too, soon realized there would be only football practice for the next four years.

While the “Wizard” had intentions of emulating pro football/baseball phenomenon Bo Jackson in college, Taylor has no plans for a dual career in his professional sporting life.

“For Bo, that’s a hobby,” Taylor said. “That wouldn’t be a hobby for me—I’ll leave the hobbies to Bo.

“I like baseball better because of the longevity of the career. Your body lasts longer—that would be a priority.”

However, if neither sport comes through for Taylor, there’s always the option of getting a regular job. Although Taylor is very sports-oriented, the first thing on his mind is getting his degree.

“My dad used to tell me that when your coaches can’t use your legs anymore, you better make sure you have a degree to fall back on,” Taylor said. “It’s a weird feeling that I’m done here (NIU). I’ve always dreamed of becoming a professional athlete, and I’m going to give it my best shot.”