ANDERSON – “You’re in, Baylor,” the fifth-grade basketball Coach barked.
Darrell Baylor jumped up, ready to finally get in the game.
At the tipoff, he leaped for the ball and flew down the court. With a gentle layup, they bounced the ball off the backboard and into the net.
He had scored.
A moment later, the youngster’s face fell as he realized he had scored against his own team.
“And ever since then, every time I start to play ball, I always remember which end I’m on,” Baylor, now an experienced player of 82, said with a chuckle.
The Retired Auditor and US Marine Corps Veteran still shoots hoops at the White River Club in Anderson – and he has no plans to hang up his Chuck Taylors.
“The thing I really learned from basketball is that you’ve got to work as a team – just not getting around it,” he said. “The same thing applies in the banking industry or anything else.”
The Hoosier native began playing basketball at five years old and continued through his time as a varsity player at the old Morgan Township High School north of Corydon.
He enlisted in the Marines in 1959 and ended up with what they describe as an “intimidating group.” He recalls his shock when the other young men were asked to empty their pockets before basic training.
“We had guys from the streets of Philadelphia, Brooklyn, New York, New Jersey, what have you, and I’ve never seen so many brass knuckles and switchblades in my life,” he said. “I mean, we didn’t have that down on the farm. But after they got their hair cut, they were just scared kids like everybody else. ”
Baylor got one thing the Marines taught him and his fellow conscripts was teamwork.
“If you didn’t work together, you were going to fail,” he said. “And that’s probably emblematic of what you see at basketball games.”
After leaving the Marines in 1963, Baylor worked as an auditor at various bank branches across the Midwest. When his job took him on the road, he carried a basketball in his trunk. After work, he’d go to a local park and play pickup ball.
He still plays basketball, preferring the “old school” style of play. He’s been known to shout “Pass the ball!” and even Storm off the court when his teammates refuse to pass in favor of shooting.
In 1987, Baylor had a chance to choose where to retire from his auditing job. He and his wife, Judy, settled in Anderson – drawn by its Hospitals, schools, golf courses and Reputation as a basketball hotbed.
“It was going to be an ideal situation, but it turned around,” Baylor said, referring to Anderson’s economic decline several decades ago. “But I still had a lot of fun playing ball out on the streets with the kids in the neighborhood.”
Baylor also has worked as a bank branch manager, as a loan officer and in insurance. Since retiring for good in 2007, they have been given back to his community. He continues to “care about those who can’t help themselves,” as his Facebook profile says.
In the past, he has volunteered as a court-appointed Advocate for Foster children and was state vice president of United Senior Action. Today, he’s an active member of the Anderson AARP, which he used to serve as president.
Baylor also tries to help military Veterans, who sometimes struggle with mental health upon their return from service. He believes that Veterans need better coping skills. By equipping their families with tools and knowledge to help their loved ones adapt, Baylor hopes that Veterans can enjoy healthier interactions as they transition to civilian life.
“If you had an environment where (the Veteran) gently goes back into the family, like maybe taking his kid out to show him how to play basketball, or his granddaughter, show her how to dance, whatever the case may be – those would be things where you could blend back in with the family, ”Baylor said.
When he’s not volunteering or spending time with his grandchildren, the octogenarian can still be found shooting baskets at the White River Club and is always ready for some half-court action.
On and off the court, Baylor still strives to be an excellent teammate to those around him – especially those in need.
“I don’t know how much time the Lord’s going to give me, but I’m gonna spend it on this,” Baylor said.