Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Is There Anything In My Box?

Joe Taylor is an autistic man who is probably in his 50s.

He works at McCaffery's supermarket in the Princeton Shopping Center, where TigerBlog often sees him. The other place that TB sees him is at Princeton sporting events, where Taylor is a regular for just about every team.

TB doesn't know a great deal about autism, a disease that robs people of their ability to communicate and socialize in a normal manner. In Taylor's case, he must be high-functioning, since he can clearly carry on conversations and process the information.

TB has known Joe since his newspaper days and has seen him in the office here at Princeton regularly for 20 years or so. There used to be a box in the back room by the printer that was "Joe Taylor's box," a place to put any old publications that were otherwise going to be thrown out.

Joe would come in and walk away with all of these guides and programs and such and take them home and read them. And memorize them.

The phone would ring every now and then here in the OAC, and it'd be Joe Taylor, who would always say the following: "Yes, this is Joe Taylor; is there anything in my box?"

He also loved to talk about whatever the most recent Princeton game he'd be at was, and he would speak in very, very specific terms about the details, referencing names, plays, standings, locations and everything.

About the only thing that's changed with Joe is that his box is long gone, though he still calls and asks about it.

In fact, this morning, Joe walked in the door and had a normal Joe Taylor conversation, which included things like:

* "who's in first place in the Red Rolfe Division?"
* "wasn't it exciting that the baseball team swept Harvard in Cambridge?"
* "the men's lacrosse team needs to beat Cornell Saturday"

and of course ... "is there anything in my box?"

Joe gets emotional when he talks about Princeton's teams, and he often laughs loudly during these exchanges. When he talks about specific people, he always uses their first name and last name.

When he's in the office, he often will continue to stand in the same place long after the conversation has ended and then suddenly turn and bolt.

All of this is fresh in TB's mind because Joe was just in here a few minutes ago, talking baseball and getting excited.

Of course, it's a good time to be excited about Princeton baseball, a team that at one point was 3-13 but has since squared its record at 18-18.

More importantly, the Tigers are 12-4 in the Gehrig Division - "the Lou Gehrig Division," Joe Taylor calls it - and they have a four-game lead on Penn with four to play.

In other words, for Princeton not to win the division title, it would have to be swept by Cornell this weekend and Penn would have to sweep Columbia, forcing a tie and a one-game playoff that Penn would then have to win.

The prize for the division winner is a spot in the Ivy League championship series, which matches the two division winners.

In the Rolfe Division, Dartmouth and Yale are tied for first heading into the final weekend, which will see Dartmouth take on Harvard four times and Yale take on Brown four times.

There could still be a three-way tie at 10-10 in the Rolfe, which would require a Brown (6-10) sweep of Yale (10-6) and a Harvard (5-11) sweep of Dartmouth (10-6). It's more likely that if there is a tie, it's between Yale and Dartmouth.

Assuming Princeton gets the division title, the next step would be hosting the ILCS, an honor that goes to the team with the better league record.

In Princeton's case, the magic number is three, meaning a combination of Princeton wins and Dartmouth and Yale losses totaling three would put the best-of-three playoff on Clarke Field May 7 and 8.

This past weekend wasn't the greatest for Princeton athletics. Both tennis teams needed assistance to earn shares of the Ivy title - and neither got it. The women's lacrosse team lost in an opportunity to get a share of the league title, and the men's lacrosse team no longer is in a win-and-in situation for the Ivy tournament.

The golf teams finished third (women) and fifth (men) at the Ivy tournaments, and the softball team was swept Sunday.

The baseball team, though, went 3-1 for its four games, losing the first and winning the next three for the second straight weekend (okay, Monday isn't really a weekend).

As a result, the Tigers did more than just put themselves in a great position in the division and to host the league series.

They also made Joe Taylor's day.


Rachel Schupack said...

thanks for the sweet story about Joe. why is his box gone?

Princeton OAC said...

His box is gone because 1) the office in which it used to be was turned into another office and 2) there aren't any publications anymore.