CHATSWORTH, Ga.—There will come a moment, probably in late July, when Taylor Patterson will start to get a little restless. For the first time since he can remember, the Murray County High School senior three-sport star will be sportless.
Though he will take his 90 mph fastball and, at least for now, attend Darton College on a baseball scholarship, the 6-foot-5, 200-pound Patterson could be playing football or basketball at the next level. He likely will end his Murray County career as a member of three all-state teams (two in baseball, one in basketball) and a starter for nine athletic seasons.
“It is a rarity that you find guys that excel in two sports, but Taylor has proven that if you’re willing to work you can do it in all three,” Murray basketball coach Greg Linder said. “Everyone wants these kids to specialize, but with Taylor, one of the major things that made him so good in basketball was the fact he played other sports. He got his toughness from football and intangibles from baseball, and they all add together.”
Patterson, who averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds for Linder, couldn’t agree more. Though he’s been told he could be really special if he concentrated on one sport, the competitor in him always said no.
“Every sport has its advantages,” he said. “In basketball you get quicker. Football players have that competitive edge other athletes just don’t have. And baseball makes you mentally stronger. The biggest thing is being a competitor and wanting to win. You have to have that desire to win to succeed in any sport.”
But does he sometimes wonder where he would be if he had worked year-round on baseball?
“Could I be a better baseball player if I had just concentrated on it? No doubt I could have, but I wouldn’t take it back for anything,” he said. “Some people have told me I would be better off playing just one sport, but no one has really tried to push me. They all know you only get one chance at enjoying these years. and I am.”
Patterson is 3-1 with an ERA of 2.25 and has 42 strikeouts in 23 innings — numbers that are even more impressive because of his short transition time to baseball. His basketball team made it to the second round of the Class AAA state playoffs.
“To me, he’s somewhat a sleeper, but when he gets to concentrate on just baseball and can put on 15 to 25 pounds, he’s going to be something,” baseball coach Jeff Lanning said. “He’s got the perfect pitcher’s body, and I could easily see him add 3 to 5 miles per hour on his fastball. He’s got a great future.”
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...