Who Was "Sec" Taylor?

The middle of summer is baseball season. There something about heading to the ballpark to watch a game in those long daylight hours. Many younger baseball fans going to Principal Park this year won't remember that the park was called Sec Taylor Stadium for decades. And even those who know the old name may not know much about the man it was named after.

"Sec" Taylor didn't just work for the Register. He held the position of Sports Editor from 1914 until his death at 78 in 1965. For many of those years he and Jack North, sports editor for the Tribune, made up the entirety of the sports department. Taylor was hired in 1914 with the idea that he would cover both sports and the goings on at the Iowa Statehouse. He instead stipulated in his contract that he would only cover sports. He took the position for $22 a week and by the 1920s had a national reputation for the quality of his reporting. Taylor was even praised by the Carnegie Foundation for his stance against sensationalized sports reporting.

Described as a "soft-spoken and courteous old-style gentleman", Taylor was not shy about expressing his opinions though. (Maury White) After the infamous Johnny Bright incident, he refused from then on to use the name of the Oklahoma A&M Player who hit Bright, breaking his jaw. He regularly skewed basketball, a sport he loathed. He started his popular "Sittin' In with the Athletes" column in 1921 and used that to present his personal opinions. His reporting of the many sporting events, from football to boxing, were factual and straight-laced. And well respected. Maury White in his article "Of Sec Taylor and the Stadium" said that respect for Sec Taylor was one of the reasons the Chicago Cubs decided to put their minor league team in Des Moines.

From 1947, when the Des Moines Bruins played their first game, until September 1959 the ballpark was known as Pioneer Memorial Stadium. In 1959 it was renamed after the nationally known sports editor. Sec Taylor Stadium was renamed Principal Park in 2004. But "Sec" Taylor himself was used to name changes. In his early days, Taylor would sign his byline as W. Garner Taylor. His boss thought it didn't sound right and made him change it to "Sec" Taylor, since Taylor was the secretary for one of the local baseball organizations. And a legend was born. He was not only a fixture for the Des Moines Register but brought national attention to our city with his dedication and fine reporting. Taylor died in Florida while attending Spring Training, still working diligently for the Register.

 

More Information

Des Moines Register, 01/07/1990 Maury White "Of Sec Taylor and the Stadium"

Des Moines Register, 07/10/2005 Gene Raffensperger "Sec Taylor Cited for Contributions"

Iowa Cubs Website : Sec Taylor

 

Baseball image by Patrick and used with Creative Commons license from Flickr

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