When Bud Taylor was named to take over Milwaukie High School's baseball program in the summer of 2016, he was eager to tackle a new challenge.
After 20-plus seasons as a high school assistant, Taylor saw the Milwaukie job as an ideal fit for someone who has just spent seven seasons as an assistant at cross-town rival Putnam.
Taylor knew the league. He knew the players. He knew the community. And he was cautiously optimistic that he could turn the Mustangs into a Northwest Oregon Conference contender, maybe even a powerhouse.
"I have a lot of confidence in these kids," he said at the time. "I'm hoping that we're going to be a team that's going to battle and … we'll see where the chips fall."
Three years later, Taylor is out as the Mustangs coach.
Taylor went home after Milwaukie lost 9-1 to La Salle Prep in the final game of the regular season on May 17 and submitted his resignation, ending a three-year run that saw the Mustangs go 18-55 overall and 10-42 in NWOC play.
"We had a horrible year and I felt like the program needed a change and I needed a change," Taylor said. "I just said, 'You know, maybe somebody else needs to step in here and take over.'
"In my three years at Milwaukie, I had my share of frustration, but I loved the kids, loved the baseball parent, and loved the community support. I have lots of great memories that I'll carry with me for the rest of my life, but it was time for a change."
In Taylor's first season, Milwaukie had a solid pitching staff led by Brad McVay, Riley Howard, and Cole Roberts and finished 9-15 overall and tied for fifth in the league at 6-11.
Among the highlights that season was the Mustangs' 9-4 win Pendleton in one of the 5A play-in games. Milwaukie then lost 4-0 in the opening round of the playoffs to Churchill, which went on to win the state championship.
The next season, the Mustangs slipped to 5-18 overall and 3-14 in league, and speculation started to swirl, suggesting Taylor could be out of a coaching job if he didn't turn things around.
When the Mustangs took another step backward this spring, going 4-22 overall and 1-17 in league, and with speculation mounting, Taylor decided to resign.
"I sort of saw the writing on the wall where the new administration was going to go with things," Taylor said. "The kids were really supportive of me. It had to do with the new administration (principal Caren Gelman and athletic director Aaron Moreno) having its eyes set on a friend coming in there to be the new head coach.
"I had some pressure on me with all the rumors and things like that. I tried to take the high road by saying, 'You know what? I'm a baseball guy and I can go any other place I want to go. I don't have to stay at Milwaukie."
Moreno, who recently announced that he too is stepping down as athletic director and assistant principal to pursue an opportunity at Rock Creek Middle School in Happy Valley, said Taylor's sudden departure was unexpected.
"I went into damage control," Moreno said.
Moreno's first move was to promote assistants Jordan Entrikin and Zachary Calwhite to oversee Milwaukie's summer team in the Oregon Independent Baseball Association. He then moved quickly to identify three finalists to fill the position as head coach and lined up two-part interviews that were scheduled for last Thursday.
"There were things that I missed and there were things that Bud didn't share with me until he had resigned," Moreno said. "I told him that my goal, either way, is to honor his time here.
"I hold coaches in high regard, in general, having been a coach and knowing that it can be a thankless job. In addition to that, I have the utmost regard for Milwaukie coaches, because it's a unique place to be and … I wish Bud the best."
Taylor, a physical education teacher at Alder Creek Middle School in Milwaukie, recently accepted a position on Oregon City baseball coach J.J. Winkle's staff.
"J.J. runs a great program with some great coaches and good kids who really work hard, so I jumped on it," said Taylor, a 1982 graduate of Oregon City. "I made the decision to leave Milwaukie before I made this decision, but I said, 'I'm done. I'm done at Milwaukie.'
"So far, everyone here has welcomed me with open arms and I'm excited for the future. I'm also excited for the future at Milwaukie."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.