Having lived his entire life in the chilly climes of Tigard, Oregon, where the average temperature during baseball season is a chilly 56 degrees, all John “J.T.” Taylor wanted was a warm place to play baseball.
He found it first at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona, where the average temperature is a balmy 85 in June and July. There, Taylor had a “darned good year,” hitting .393 with a .526 on-base percentage, 59 runs, 59 hits, 11 doubles, 10 homeruns and 35 RBIs.
Those numbers have helped get him to an even warmer place to play ball – right here in Louisiana.
This fall, Taylor will attend the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to become a Ragin’ Cajun. But first, he is spending his summer getting acclimated to his new home and the relentless southern heat as a member of the Baton Rouge Rougarou.
“I’ve always dreamed of playing someplace warm, so…” said Taylor, whose Ragin’ Cajun coaches connected him with the Rougarou.
Taylor joined his new team on the road in Seguin, Texas, about two weeks ago, just two days after finding out he had a spot.
“I flew into San Antonio and caught the team in Seguin,” Taylor said. “I got to the field and I was the first one there. I showed up with my suitcase, a backpack and my bat bag and I met everyone. I batted fifth and played second base. Things got rolling.”
It didn’t take long for Taylor to become part of the team and make his presence felt. As a regular middle infielder for the Rougarou, Taylor is hitting .262 through 13 games with 11 hits and nine RBIs. Not bad for a guy who had to, almost literally, hit the ground running. It’s been a bit of a challenge, he said.
“A little,” Taylor said. “Being in different surroundings, around people I haven’t met before. It’s been a little tough but my buddies have been so welcoming, they just made it feel like home right away. I realize that I’ve got a home here. I really love it down here.”
Taylor said it has been a bit of a culture shock: “It’s very warm. It’s sunny most of the time. When it rains it ain’t cold. The food is absolutely incredible. I like everyone’s accent. They think I taught funny I they all have accents. But it’s been so easy to just make a ton of friends.”
Living with teammate Elliot Hebert for the summer, Taylor has had a chance to check out a few Louisiana staples. He’s eaten crawfish pie, but has not attempted to peel and eat one yet. His favorite dish so far has been pastalaya – “absolutely amazing.” He really wants to see a swamp. And an alligator. He also wants to go to a beach.
Taylor, along with his older brother, Will, also are well known for their YouTube channel, the Baseball Bat Bros, where they test and compare various baseball bats on the market. The channel has more than 300,000 subscribers and more than 52 million views.
But this summer, he’s trying to make a name for himself on the field as he prepares for his next stop in Lafayette.
“When I heard ULL, I was like star stuck,” he said. “A Rajun Cajun! I’ve only dreamed of playing baseball in the south. I knew that they got a bunch of fans, they’re in the Sunbelt Conference and they’re pretty damn good at baseball. I did a lot more research on the academic side and the culture and it sounds amazing.”
Lori Lyons, Rougarou Writer