Nyack High School
Class of 1960
Al Taylor was born in Durham, North Carolina, and came to
Rockland to be raised by his aunts Celestine Barney and Eva
Bond. By the time he graduated from Nyack High School in
1960, he had won nine varsity letters in three sports and was
celebrated as the “Most Athletic” member of his class.
He soon returned to North Carolina, where he attended
college and met his future wife, with whom he would share
more than a half-century of service to community and the joy
of a growing extended family.
From 1956 to 1960 at Nyack High School, Taylor was a man
for all seasons. He was a unanimous first team All-County
selection in both basketball and football and four-time county
champion – twice as an individual in the shot put, and twice as
a member of Nyack track relays. He even earned an award as
a member of the JV baseball team. Along the way he set several
county records in scoring, time and distances.
Al Taylor was a part of stellar Nyack teams from the fall of
1956, when he appeared in a Nyack team photo in The Journal-
News as a freshman, through the fall of 1959, representing the
Indians on the first team All-County football teams in his junior
and senior seasons. The recognition was much deserved.
In a game story on Oct. 27, 1959, Journal-News Sports Editor
Joe Marsico gave a sense of the critical role Taylor played,
especially during his junior and senior seasons.
“A Stu Theis to Taylor pass carried to the Clarkstown 35,” and
a few plays and a penalty later, Nyack was at the 21 yard line.
“Theis spotted Taylor slanting to the left, hit him nicely and
Big Al went over unmolested. He booted the extra point to
make it 27-6, Nyack.”
The catch was captured perfectly in a photo in The Journal-
News showing Taylor with “his hands open, waiting for
Stu Theis’ forward pass,” which can be seen part way through
its successful flight. Taylor, who also played defense, also
kicked three extra points.
The success against Clarkstown was typical of that 1959
season, as Nyack suffered just a single loss to Haverstraw and
added victories against Newburgh, Port Jervis, Tappan Zee,
Spring Valley, Pearl River and Suffern.
The victory over Clarkstown, in which Taylor played a pivotal
role, combined with a Suffern win over Spring Valley on
Veterans Day, brought Nyack a 1959 co-championship shared
with the Mounties.
News of the co-championship appeared under a full-page
headline proclaiming, “Taylor, Sullivan Unanimous All-County
Choices,” with the subhead, “Nyack and Suffern Dominate
1959 ‘Dream’ Team Selections.”
The story by Marsico, the legendary sports editor, began with
mention of “Al Taylor, Nyack High School’s acrobatic passcatching
end….” Taylor, it went on to say, “is the only repeater
on the first team, having picked up a like nomination last
season,” when he was a junior in the fall of 1958.
“Aside from Taylor, who breezed in,” there were battles for all the other line
positions, according to Marsico. “In Taylor and (Suffern’s Bob)
Stoughton at ends, you have height, pass-catching ability and
good speed on both flanks.” In an era when many stars played
both ways, it was said of Taylor’s defense that “Big Al’s strong
suit was knocking down aerials in his sector.”
As far as rivalries were concerned, Taylor’s son Stephen says,
“In all the stories my Dad has told me, Haverstraw was always
On Jan. 15, 1960, The Journal-News reported that “A point
of interest in Pearl River will be Nyack’s Al Taylor going over
the 100-point mark. The Nyack ace has compiled 94 already
and should have no trouble finding six points to reach the
charmed circle for the third straight year.”
Although there were players on his basketball team who were
taller, Al was the center at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, with strong
leaping ability that brought rebounding and scoring punch.
That was reflected in a story two weeks later. “Al Taylor has
done well over the past two games for the Tribe, hitting 34 in
Haverstraw and following it with a 26-point performance
against Pearl River. George McGregor had been the hot hand
for the Nyackers until Taylor hit his stride… Ron Royster and
Taylor give the Indians a formidable backboard duo, while soph
Ed Fox teams with Howie Miller and McGregor for the outside
At one point during his senior season, Taylor drew a comparison
with one of the college standouts at the time, NYU’s Tom
Sanders. A columnist, who had seen Sanders playing at
Westchester County Center, spotted the similarities: “Look
alikes and act alikes: Nyack’s Al Taylor and NYU’s Tom
Sanders…Same build, same moves and same facial resemblance….”
A comparison with Sanders was high praise indeed.
At the end of the 1959-1960 P.S.A.L. basketball season, the
headlines again mentioned Al Taylor as a unanimous selection
to the All-County first team along with Clarkstown’s Jim
Vellane and Spring Valley’s Mike Rider. Taylor had been a first team
honoree after the 1958-1959 season as well.
In both his junior and senior seasons, Taylor was the county’s
leading scorer and in 1959-1960 he broke Ronnie Johnson’s
long-standing season county scoring record of 283, with 291
points for Nyack. Taylor added another 138 points in six
“extra-curricular games” for an overall season total of 429,
averaging 23.8 points for 18 games.
TRACK & FIELD
In track, Taylor had a 93.3 winning percentage in the shot put
and became the first Rockland schoolboy to break 50 feet while
winning four Rockland County championships – two individual
in the shot put and two as a member of a superb Nyack
The long toss came in a dual meet in May 1960. Although more
than a half-century has clouded whether it came against Spring
Valley or, as Al recalls it, against Suffern, what is certain is that
at 50-2¾ it was the best ever by a Rockland high school athlete.
Al says his throw hit the top of a fence at the end of the sector,
past which there was a slope leading down to the Thruway. “I
was afraid the shot would roll down the hill and hit a car,” but
it did not, he said.
Al said he was proud to throw the shot farther than Roger
Brown, the Nyack great (who had about 100 pounds on Al)
who preceded him by a few years and who threw in the
Al’s 50-2¾ was two feet better than his toss of 48-2¾ that came
two days later and won the New Paltz Relays.
The back-to-back tosses came during a stretch of two seasons
in which Taylor won 12 dual meet or relay titles and two
Rockland County Meet championships – in 1959, with a toss
of 45-10¼ and 1960 with 46-6.
Al also competed on one- and two- lap relays and the 220-yard
run, but helped set county records in the 440-yard relay on the
way to winning the Hudson Valley Relays championships with
a 45.1 in 1959 and a 44.9 in 1960.
As a member of Nyack’s 880-yard relay, along with Eddie
Walker, Truman White and Norman Daniels, Al shared in
Rockland County Meet championships in 1959 and 1960 and
in many dual meet victories.
After high school, Taylor attended North Carolina Central in
Durham, N.C. While a student there, he met his future wife
Loretta, who was attending North Carolina A&T and was a
roommate of his first cousin.
He and Loretta have been married 53 years and have three
children — Stephen, Jennifer and Lenora. They also have eight
grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Al’s first career was as a “tree-man” pruning back trees from
power lines, for Orange & Rockland. He said many ex-football
players from Rockland high schools worked for O&R performing
the same role.
All three Taylor children were born in Nyack, but in 1972, the
family moved back to North Carolina, where they all live
Taylor embarked on a new career there, joining the High Point,
N.C. Police Department and winning Rookie of the Year and
later Police Officer of the Year honors. He rose through the
ranks and retired as the first African-American to attain the
rank of captain in the High Point department.
Al wanted to make special note of his friendship with Jim Kane.
Jim coached Al in Little League baseball, on the Indians team,
and followed his career “all the way through. He is like family.”
Because of his unpredictable police schedule, Al Taylor wasn’t
able to coach his children – who all took part in track and other
sports – at least not in an official capacity.
“I got plenty of coaching at home and in the car,” Steven
Taylor says with a laugh, “and when we were competing, there
was always that big guy in the police uniform up on the hill.
He was always there being very vocal.”