Joe Cephus Taylor
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 185 lb.
- Debut August 26, 1954
- Final Game July 21, 1959
- Born March 2, 1926 in Chapman, AL USA
- Died March 18, 1993 in Pittsburgh, PA USA
Joe Taylor was an outfielder 18 years (1946-1963), three in semipro ball (1946-1948); three in the Negro Leagues (1949-1951); one in the independent leagues (1950); four in the Majors (1954 and 1957-1959); three in the winter leagues (1953-1955); and 13 in the minors (1951-1963). Taylor was born on March 2, 1926, in Chapman, AL. He graduated from high school in 1944 when he was drafted into the U.S. Army (VA).
Discharged in 1946, he lived in Pittsburgh, PA and had played only softball until about 1947 when he began playing sandlot ball as a catcher and caught the attention of a sportswriter named Earl Johnson of the Pittsburgh Courier, a black weekly, who encouraged him to continue. He began as a catcher for the Chicago American Giants in the Negro American League in 1949. At that time the Negro American League was struggling to survive the loss of players to Organized Baseball, and during the 1950 season he became one of the defectors, playing with the Winnipeg Buffaloes in the Mandak League and batting .237 in 34 games.
The team was managed by Willie Wells and included Leon Day, Lyman Bostock Sr., Spoon Carter, Smokey Robinson, Butch Davis, Sam Hill and Taylor Smith. On June 14, 1950 Winnipeg whipped the Brandon Greys, 8-1, to take first prize money in Brandon's $1,400 invitational tournament. Smith pitched a four-hitter to lead the Buffs and Taylor and Wells each drove in a pair for Winnipeg.
He returned to the Giants in 1951, but he then joined the nearly all-black Farnham Pirates in the Class C Provincial League in 1951, breaking into Organized Baseball at age 24. He injured his arm in 1951 and moved to the outfield. Farnham was managed by Sam Bankhead and included such players as Al Pinkston, Joe Atkins, Humberto Robinson and Josh Gibson Jr. Farnham later became noted in baseball history as one of the places where black players were first welcomed into Organized Baseball.
Before the 1952 season, he was sent from Farnham to the Philadelphia Athletics and was optioned to the St. Hyacinthe A'sin the Provincial League before spending 1953 with the Williamsport A's in the Eastern League and the Ottawa A's in the International League (IL). He began 1954 with Ottawa and was called up by the Athletics in August. He was the third African-American to play with the Athletics and joined Bob Trice and Vic Power with them.
Joe Taylor makes The Show
Taylor was 28 years old when he broke into the big leagues on August 26, 1954, with the Athletics. Finishing out the season with Philadelphia, he then played for the Columbus Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs of the IL (1955); and the Portland Beavers of the Pacific Coast League (PCL) (1955). Before the 1956 season he was sent from the Kansas City Athletics to the Cincinnati Redlegs and played for the Seattle Rainiers (PCL) (1956-1957), finishing the 1957 season up with Cincinnati.
On December 5, 1957 he was traded by the Redlegs with Curt Flood to the St. Louis Cardinals for Marty Kutyna, Ted Wieand and Willard Schmidt. Optioned to Omaha of the American Association (AA), the Cardinals brought him up in 1958 and he was selected off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles from the Cardinals on July 25th. He played his final major league game for the Orioles on July 21, 1959 at age 32.
He returned to the minors with the Vancouver Mounties (PCL) (1959); the Seattle Rainiers (PCL) (1960); the San Diego Padres (1961); the Hawaii Islanders and Vancouver (PCL) (1962); and the Pericos de Puebla and the Mexico City Tigers of the Mexican League (1963); ending his baseball career at age 37.
In 1958, his best year in MLB, he had 28 hits, 13 runs, 7 doubles, 0 triples, 3 home runs, 12 RBI and 0 stolen bases at (.280/.336/.440) in 54 games. In 1960, his best year in the minors, he had 153 hits, 104 runs, 26 doubles, 7 triples, 30 home runs, 94 RBI and 7 stolen bases at (.291/~.369/.538) in 145 games.
Overall in MLB, he had 74 hits, 34 runs, 16 doubles, 1 triples, 9 home runs, 31 RBI and 0 stolen bases at (.249/.313/.401) in 119 games. Overall in the minors, he had 1556 hits, 897 runs, 289 doubles, 39 triples, 264 home runs, 955 RBI and 78 stolen bases at (.295/~.364/.514) in 1496 games.
He had black hair and brown eyes, his ancestry was African-American and his principal hobby was sports. He died at age 67 at a Veterans Administration Hospital in Pittsburgh on March 18, 1993 and is buried at Greenwood Cemetery.
- Led Provincial League in Doubles (35), 1952
Principal sources for Joe Taylor include newspaper obituaries (OB), government Veteran records (VA,CM,CW), Stars & Stripes (S&S), Sporting Life (SL), The Sporting News (TSN), The Sports Encyclopedia:Baseball 2006 by David Neft & Richard Cohen (N&C), old Who's Who in Baseballs (none) (WW), old Baseball Registers (none) (BR) , old Daguerreotypes by TSN (none) (DAG), Stars&Stripes (S&S), The Baseball Necrology by Bill Lee (BN), Pat Doyle's Professional Ballplayer DataBase (PD), The Baseball Library (BL), Baseball in World War II Europe by Gary Bedingfield (GB) ; The Pacific Coast League: A Statistical History, 1903-1957 by Dennis Snelling; SABR's Minor League Baseball Stars, Volume III; The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James A. Riley; The Negro Leagues Book by Dick Clark and Larry Lester; The International League: Year-by-year Statistics, 1884-1953 by Marshall D. Wright; The American Association: Year-By-Year Statistics for the Baseball Minor League, 1902-1952 by Marshall D. Wright; and independent research by Walter Kephart (WK) and Frank Russo (FR) and others.