The Taylors, including Hall of Famer Ben Taylor, helped define a generation of baseball in the Negro Leagues
Then there was John Boyce Taylor, born in Anderson on Aug. 12, 1879.
James Allen Taylor arrived four and a half years later, on Feb. 1, 1884.
And Benjamin Harrison Taylor was born on July 1, 1888.
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All told, the Taylors had nine children – three daughters and two other sons. It was enough to field their own baseball team, but it was these four men who made a name for themselves on the diamond.
Known now as the “first family” of Negro Leagues baseball, the Taylor name is scattered throughout decades of box scores and news clippings.
Ben followed C.I. up north when the eldest brother relocated the Giants and had a two-season stint with the St. Louis Giants before joining Jim and Johnny in Chicago, where the three played on Foster’s 1913 Chicago American Giants. He signed on with C.I. again in 1914 and played for the ABCs until 1922, during which time the lowest his batting average ever dipped for a season was .294. Ben took over managerial duties for Indianapolis in the season after C.I. died, and later served as player-manager for the Washington Potomacs, Baltimore Black Sox, Harrisburg Giants and Bacharach Giants.
Fellow Hall of Famer Buck Leonard credited Ben with teaching him the game, noting “I got most of my learning from Ben Taylor. He helped me when I first broke in with his team. He had been the best first baseman in Negro baseball up until that time, and he was the one who really taught me to play first base.”
Similarly, after Ben passed away in 1953, the Chicago Defender described him as “One of the great first basemen in Negro baseball. His name is bracketed with that of other top first sackers of that period. He was an excellent fielder and a cracking good hitter from the left side.”
The Taylors were a familial baseball dynasty for the ages.
Isabelle Minasian is the digital content specialist for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum