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40 in 40: Chris Taylor

Chris Taylor struggled in 2015, as we all struggle with the human condition.

an origin story
an origin story
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Taylor was born on August 29, 1990, to a virgin mother under a blood moon in a blanket of snow. It was the first day of the Egyptian God Thoth, the feast day of the beheading of John the Baptist. More than those things, it was the Birthday of Chris Taylor. The winds died that night, owls abandoned their hunts and dreamed indistinct colors, and the cattle sang in a strange skittish dirge, presaging the leather gloves they would someday become. Madmen looked at their hands with momentary lucidity, remembering their mistakes, and wept.

We know little of Chris Taylor. We know that as a youth, he spent his days throwing pinecones at stop signs, striking them from hundreds of yards away with a throwing motion like a butterfly stroke. We know that the other kindergarteners envied his full beard, and dared not speak to him directly, referring to him as "the wolf." He did not speak, because he hadn’t yet decided what to say. We know that he singlehandedly rendered the lawn dart illegal, that he once threw a stick like a javelin that embedded into the ground and could not be removed by grown men.

We know that Chris Taylor went away. As an adolescent he would shake a man’s hand and, as they looked in his clear blue eyes, they saw in him the masculinity they could never approach. Horses threw their riders at the mere mention of his name. People feared him, feared themselves. And so he left them to bring them peace, left his mother and the promises of public education, turned and walked directly due west, through the backyards of strangers and across highways. No one dared disturb him.

Chris Taylor wandered the foothills of the Appalachians wrestling the bears and, in his darker hours, the trees themselves, hunting for a definition for himself. Occasionally he would re-emerge, to trade honeycombs for clothing or to demolish the small town of Brownsburg, VA, beating the concrete to sand with his gnarled fists. Even in the tensest moments of his destruction and rage, his pale eyes stared forward at nothing, as if he were working in a world no one else could see. Neighboring towns began to leave out offerings, plates of pancakes or Jansport backpacks, but he ignored them all, trudging through the streets in the twilight like a deathless sentry, searching.

His appearances grow more rare, until he retreated deep into the mountains. In silent rage, he threw pinecones and hit trees with sticks, and then hit the pinecones with the sticks. As the they rolled along the soft forest floor, between the trees, a feeling of rightness washed over him. Finally he understood what it was to be Chris Taylor. He stitched stirrups out of the fibers of moss, broke his hamate bones in anticipation, and resurrected himself.

This is all conjecture, of course; we cannot know what happened there, or what he whispered to himself on those cold nights, chasing squirrels to stay warm. We know that he left the world a boy, and returned a shortstop, wielding a bat he whittled from a tree he strangled himself, and wearing a glove tanned from the hides of owls snatched from midair. At the bus station, the young clerk stared up at him through the glass, like the old days, but with something new hidden in his wide eyes.

Chris Taylor said hello, then emptying the contents of an owl gizzard into the tray, purchased a ticket to the big leagues.