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Kevin Hieronymus

PHS players learn game, stories from Guillens

Ozzie Guillen stories and antics have been well chronicled during his stint as big league manager for the Chicago White Sox and Miami Marlins. Shall we say, Guillen has a gift of gab.

Since his firing from the Marlins last year, he’s helping to pass on his knowledge of the game to his sons’ youth team, the Kane County Phantoms 17U baseball team. Son Oney Guillen, 27, is the Phantoms head coach, assisted by his brothers Ozzie Jr. and Ozney. His famous father also frequents the park as well.

Two of the Phantoms players benefiting from being around the Guillens are Princeton’s Isaiah Taylor and Caleb Dickens, who made the team at tryouts.

Taylor said it’s really fun when he comes around.

“He’s a pretty fun guy,” Taylor said. “He gives us tips, he tells us what we’re doing right and stuff. It’s pretty funny watching the other teams impressions, ‘Gosh that’s Ozzie.’”

Dickens said he’s got some autographs from Guillen, who’s given Dickens a hard time for being a Cubs fan.

“I told him I’m a Cubs fan and he started chuckling. He likes to give the Cubs and Cardinals fans crap,” Dickens said.

Tim Taylor, Isaiah’s father and boys’ coach at PHS, has heard all the Ozzie Guillen stories. He hasn’t seen any of them the times the elder Guillen has been with the team.

“He has been as good as gold. I think as much as anything it’s part of the show, if you will,” Taylor said. “It’s been a really positive. They have been very laid back and good people. The boys have had a great time, playing for them, interacting with him when Ozzie’s in the dugout and talking about his experiences. They’ve been good coaches that have had a nice even keel approach to the game.”

The elder Guillen, who coaches first base for games he attends, helped Taylor get out of a little batting slump, recently, talking to him about his elbow and seeing the pitch better.

“I was having some trouble hitting lately and he was showing me what I was doing wrong,” said Isaiah Taylor, who had eight hits this past weekend.

Likewise, Guillen helped Dickens iron out some pitching mechanics. The PHS senior is sporting a 5-0 record with a ERA just under 3.00.

“He told me once I was pointing my shoulder up and I realized my pitches were too high. He said to stand tall, that helped me out last, because it seemed like some balls were high,” Dickens said.

A pitcher/outfielder for PHS, Taylor is batting leadoff and playing only center field for the Phantoms. Dickens, on the other hand, is pitching only, traveling with the team on days he is scheduled to pitch. That leaves Taylor frequently alone on the team and making new friends.

“I’ve really enjoyed. it. I just like meeting new people and it’s a really easy way to do it,” Isaiah Taylor said.

Overall, Taylor called it “one of great experiences I’ve had playing baseball, just get a lot of knowledge from people who have really good experiences and know what they’re talking about.”

“It’s been a good experience. We’ve got good coaching and a lot of good athletes,” Dickens said.

Tim Taylor is enjoying sitting back playing dad this summer while watching his son play ball.

“I encourage Isaiah to go play with someone else every summer. I encourage all the boys to play on other summer teams,” he said. “For me, it’s been really nice to sit back and watch him grow and interact with other team members he doesn’t know. When Caleb’s not here, Isaiah has to make new friends and find his way on the field, which I think is invaluable.”

The Phantoms (22-5) made it to the championship game of the tournament at North Central College in Naperville over the weekend, losing to the Phantoms 18U team 6-3. Their season winds down this weekend at Northern Illinois.

A third PHS player, Logan Wilde, is playing for a team in Chillicothe under veteran IVC coach Jerry Rashid.

Good showing: Princeton teams made a good showing in the Western Bureau Valley B league Tournament last week. The Princeton Cardinals finished undefeated at 14-0-1, including four tournament games to win the championship. The Princeton Tigers (12-3-1) took second, losing only (twice) to the Cardinals in the tournament. The Princeton Athletics won the consolation championship, finishing 2-1 in the tournament. Walnut Green claimed third place.

I’ll have to admit it was a rather strange feeling coaching for the Tigers against the Cardinals in the tournament. As you may know, I’m a Cardinal fan and have coached youth teams, girls and boys, for more than 20 years who have wore the Cardinal red. I even temporarily took my Cards cap during Sunday’s championship game.

Kevin Hieronymus is the BCR sports editor. Contact him at khieronymus@bcrnews.com.