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I got the surprise of my life when people were complaining about a DR editorial. You mean the BYH column is not the...

31 years of dedication

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American Legion's Ernie Taylor accepts his award at the 29th annual Hot Stove Banquet in the Murphy Center at ECU on Jan. 23, 2018. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By Jake Keator
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, July 6, 2019

American Legion Post 39 member Ernie Taylor has been a fixture at nearly every Post 39 baseball function for the past 31 years. Whether it’s a home or away game, a banquet or tournament, Taylor is always close by supporting the team either from the stands or from the back of his vehicle in the parking lot, with food waiting for Post 39 players after a hard fought away game.

Taylor joined the Air Force in 1950 following his high school graduation, and served for nearly four years. Following his service Taylor enrolled and graduated from East Carolina, where he earned a degree in business. He then became a CPA auditor and investigator for the United States Congress. Taylor moved back to Pitt County in 1988, after formerly living in Virginia.

"I had traveled extensively when I worked for congress for nearly 30 years," Taylor said. "I told myself that if I could ever get to a place where I could settle down I needed to give to the community. I have three sons, and the way I gave back was to get involved in things they were involved in. I got involved in the Civitan Club, American Legion, Kiwanis and through the church, I just wanted to give back."

Give back he did, Taylor served as secretary and treasurer of Post 39 for 10 years. He has been the secretary and treasurer of the Post's athletic committee since 1999, and the Post 39 Youth Athletic Fund since its inception in 2011. Overall Taylor said he has been the treasurer of six different non-profit organizations and the secretary of four.

Every Saturday when there is a home game for the Pirates Taylor is out at the parking lot of the Harris Teeter on Charles Boulevard, helping park cars and using the profits to help pay for travel and food for the team.

"I'm just not a person who can sit down all day and watch TV or read," Taylor said. "I need to be doing something that I think is helpful, and the more I can contribute to society the better I feel about it."

At 87 years old you would expect an older fan to sit back, relax and enjoy the high quality of baseball being played just yards away. Taylor opts for a different approach. When the team plays host at Pitt Community College Taylor is manning the concession stand, visiting media and staff in the press box or walking around collecting donations for the Post’s raffle near the end of every home game.

Taylor’s continuous support of the team is not lost on parents, players or the team’s coaches, head coach Ryan Meadows and assistant coach Corey Skinner.

"He is a living legend," Meadows said. "He really treats every one of those kids as his own sons or grandsons," Meadows said. "He's not satisfied unless the boys are taken care of in a first-class manner. He poured his heart and soul into this team, and he's not going to accept anything less than the best possible experience while wearing that Post 39 jersey."

The experience and the joy of the players is what continues to push Taylor to continue his involvement, whether at a home game or away. Taylor helps organize postgame meals for the squad after every away game.

"When I see them happy it makes me that much happier," Taylor said. "Most of them will come by and say thank you. There's usually three of us legionnaires there getting the food lined up for them. Most of them come up and say thank you and shake our hands. In my 31 or 32 years I have seen only one young man suspended for actions we thought we unbecoming of our program. You can imagine that's somewhere in the range of 400 or 500 young men. To have only one incident out of that, that's what's most impressive to me and I think about it everyday."

Taylor says he still plans to stick around and show his support for the Post 39 squad, though he may eventually scale back his work with the team and become the programs number one supporter.

"As long as I can keep going I plan on continuing what I do," he said.

Contact Jake Keator at jkeator@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 and follow @JakeKeatorDR on Twitter.

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