James Allen Taylor
Nickname: Candy Jim
Positions: 3b, 2b, ss, p, manager, officer, league official (Negro National League)
Teams: Birmingham Giants (1904-1908), Leland Giants (1909), St. Paul Gophers (1909-1910), Chicago Giants (1910), St. Louis Giants (1911), West Baden Sprudels (1912), Chicago American Giants (1912-1913), Indianapolis ABCs (1914-1919, 1931-1932), Louisville White Sox (1915), Bowser's ABCs (1916), Dayton Marcos (1919-1921), Cleveland Tate Stars (1922), Toledo Tigers (1923), St. Louis Stars (1923-1929), Cleveland Elites (1926), Detroit Stars (1926, 1933), Memphis Red Sox (1930), Nashville Elite Giants (1933-1934); Columbus Elite Giants (1935), Washington Elite Giants (1936), Baltimore Elite Giants (1948), Chicago American Giants (1937-1939, 1941-1942, 1945-1947), Birmingham Black Barons (1940), Homestead Grays (1943-1944)
Height: 5' 9'' Weight: 185
Born: February 1, 1884, Anderson, South Carolina
Died: April 3, 1948, Chicago, Illinois
A member of the famous Taylor family, Candy Jim was a good-hitting infielder and a quick thinker who played mostly at third base prior to becoming a successful manager. As a player he was a member of three championship teams: the 1909 St. Paul Gophers, the 1912 Chicago American Giants, and the 1916 Indianapolis ABCs. As a manager he piloted another pair of teams to a championship. He directed the St. Louis Stars to the 1928 Negro National League championship, and a during a wartime stint with the Homestead Grays, he managed the team to a pair of World Series victories over the Birmingham Black Barons in 1943-1944. A master strategist with excellent managerial ability, he began his helm experience in 1919 as playing manager, and he was with sixteen different teams during a forty-five-year career as player and manager that spanned virtually the entire existence of the black baseball era.
He attended Greeley Institute in his hometown of Anderson, South Carolina, and learned the game of baseball on the local sandlots, making his debut at age thirteen, but did not play with an organized team until 1901, when he joined an amateur ballclub in his hometown as a catcher. The next two years he played with different clubs in South Carolina, and in 1904 he went to Birmingham, Alabama, where his brother C.I. Taylor was managing. Assigned to the hot corner, Candy Jim handled the job well, making only 3 errors in 55 games for the remainder of the season. In addition to his exceptional fielding he posted batting averages of .290, .306, .298, .340, and .316 for the seasons of 1904-1908 with the Birmingham Giants. He continued with that team for the next five years, until early in the 1909 season, when he moved North to join the St. Paul Gophers, who defeated the Leland Giants for the western championship.
In 1910 he went to Chicago to play third base with Frank Leland’s newly formed Chicago Giants. hut after a year he joined the St. Louis Giants, batting fifth in the lineup while holding down the third-base slot. Leaving again after only one year, he signed on with Rube Foster's Chicago American Giants in 1912, and stepped into the cleanup spot in his first year with the team. The American Giants proved to be the top team in the West, and one of Foster's best teams ever. The next season Candy Jim's brother Ben joined him on the American Giants, who retained their place atop the western independents.
In 1914 the two brothers joined their other pair of brothers, C.I. and "Steel Arm" Johnny, on the Indianapolis ABCs. Candy Jim batted third and Ben fourth, while Johnny was a star hurler and C.I. was the manager and pinch-hitter in the ABCs' first year as a major-league caliber ballclub. After a season in Louisville. Candy Jim returned to the ABCs and slipped back into the third slot in the batting order, hitting .315 as the ABCs defeated Rube Foster's Chicago American Giants for the western championship in 1916. The next season he split his time afield between third base and second base but was hampered by injuries, dropping to a .235 batting average for the year. In 1918 he played at second base while Dave Malarcher moved into the third-base spot. He left the ABCs in 1919 to join the Dayton Marcos, batting in the heart of the order while playing every infield position except first base.
Embarking on his managerial career, he spent the next few seasons at the helm of faltering franchises that slipped in and out of the Negro National League in short order. The 1920 Marcos was the first team he guided in league play. Leaving the Marcos, he signed on as manager of the Cleveland Tate Stars in 1922, and was the third baseman and cleanup hitter, but the team also dropped out of the league after a year. His next stop with a fringe ballclub was with the Toledo Tigers, who lasted only half a season in the league.
Finally he took the reins of an established team, signing with the St. Louis Stars in 1923 and remaining as player-manager through 1929 except for the 1926 season, when he managed the Cleveland Elites and the Detroit Stars. As a player he posted batting averages of .287, .342, .186, .317, and .389 in 1923-1927. By the middle of the decade his emphasis was on managing, and he had adjusted to a reserve status as a player. Taylor had a reputation of being a good judge of young talent, but according to one source, he made a colossal mistake in one instance. In 1930, while managing the Memphis Red Sox, he picked up a youngster named Josh Gibson for a game in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and afterward said that he would never be a catcher.
After a year at the helm of the Red Sox and with a batting average of .250 at age forty-six, he returned to Indianapolis to try to reestablish the ABCs after four years without a ballclub in the city. After two years he became part owner and the franchise moved to Detroit, playing in 1933 as the Stars. But falling victim to the economy of the Depression, the ballclub folded after the season. Following he demise of his team, he resumed his helm-hopping, making stops with the Nashville Elite Giants, Columbus Elite Giants, Brooklyn Royal Giants, Washington Elite Giants, Chicago American Giants, Birmingham Black Barons, Homestead Grays, and Baltimore Elite Giants.
Beginning in 1935 he was a non-playing manager, and he was the manager of the Negro National League All Star team that easily won the Denver Post Tournament in 1936. During his association with baseball he also served as the vice-chairman of the Negro National League. He began the 1948 season as manager of the Baltimore Elite Giants, but after an extended illness, he passed away in the spring before the start of the regular season.
Source: James A. Riley, The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1994.