Whether he was manning the hot corner, occupying the hot seat in the dugout as a manager or applying heat to owners and promoters, Candy Jim Taylor's star burned bright for the entire heyday of black baseball in America. His is the story of a bright pupil growing up to become an outstanding teacher.
Baseball and family went hand-in-hand for Taylor, whose brothers Ben, Johnny and C.I. also were instrumental figures in the game. Candy Jim, C.I. and Ben are among the 39 figures from the Negro Leagues and pre-Negro Leagues eras being considered by a 12-member voting committee for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Candy Jim Taylor, born on Feb. 1, 1884, broke in as a third baseman with the St. Paul Gophers in 1904. He helped the Gophers to the Black Western championship in 1909 and also starred for the 1913 Chicago American Giants. While playing for his brother, C.I., with the 1916 Indianapolis ABC's, Candy Jim's clutch hitting helped bring the Black World Championship to the ABC's.
But starting in 1919, Candy Jim became a player-manager, and began an even more impressive phase of his career.
Taylor would manage for the rest of his life, win pennants with the St. Louis Stars in 1928 and 1943, and the Homestead Grays in 1944. Sometimes he would call his own number. He once put himself in a game as a pinch-hitter to break up a Sam Streeter no-hitter with two down in the ninth, and he singled and scored on June 2, 1931 at age 51.
Having gained his education in the days of small ball, Taylor emphasized fundamentals at a time when players and fans became fascinated with the home run. Nonetheless, Taylor made things work. His best work came with young squads. As a result, Taylor managed more games than anyone else in the history of the Negro Leagues, and finished with a record 775 victories.
Taylor had a lot to teach, and he insisted that players be there for it. It was joked that Taylor would leave his own mother behind if she were late for a team trip. Well, maybe it wasn't a joke. Taylor, who spoke out when owners, players and even umpires did not uphold the highest standards of conduct, knew that a team arriving late could cost the club and those on it a payday.
The Negro Leagues began to decline after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947 with Brooklyn, but Taylor was not around to see the downfall. He died at age 64 on April 3, 1948, before a new season began.
But he was a huge part of so many seasons that came before then.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.