Charles Isham Taylor, also known as C.I. Taylor, made a remarkable impact on black baseball during his lifetime. After attending Clark University in Atlanta and serving in the Spanish-American War, Taylor would begin his long managerial career.
In 1904, Taylor was a playing-manager for the Birmingham Giants. After five seasons in Alabama, Taylor moved the team to West Baden, IN and changed their name to the “Sprudels”. As the playing-manager, Taylor was the second baseman for the Sprudels. Taylor transferred the franchise to Indianapolis in 1914. The team was sponsored by Indianapolis’ American Brewing Company and called the ABCs. In Indianapolis, Taylor was able to develop the ABCs to be a powerhouse, rivaled only by Rube Foster’s Chicago American Giants. In 1915, the ABCs would defeat the Chicago American Giants in the Negro World Series. The ABCs would successfully defend their title in 1916.
As a proud team owner, Taylor’s ABCs were always a classy ball club. The ABCs traveled first-class and were always well dressed on and off the field. Even when he disagreed with an umpire, Taylor maintained his composure and always kept his temper.
World War I had an impact on the ABCs. Seven men from the team were drafted into military service. As a proud Spanish-American veteran, Taylor personally toured DC with the mean, pointing out various government institutions and instilling in them a sense of their duty to their country.
In 1920, the Negro National League was formed, and Taylor was named Vice President of the League. The ABCs were a member of the NNL from 1920-1926. The 1922 season was their most successful in the NNL, finishing second with a 46-33 record.
At the early age of 47, Taylor passed away. His widow continued to operate the team for three years before it folded in 1926. His brother Ben served as a playing manger for a year after his death. Taylor’s discipline, patriotism, and baseball strategy are among his many legacies. To carry on his legacy, the Negro League Museum annually honors a “Manager of the Year” with the “Charles Isham ‘C.I.’ Taylor Award”.
C.I. Taylor’s final resting place is in Crown Hill Cemetery, Lot 55, Section 53.