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May 18th, 1887, Cornell Daily Sun. Cornell v. Williams Baseball (8-3).
Harry Leonard Taylor, Captain of the Cornell Varsity Baseball Team, 1885 – 1888.
had a remarkable career both on and off the ball field.
In 1890 Harry Taylor had his finest professional major-league season, hitting .306 and collecting
169 hits (fifth best in the league) to help the Louisville Colonels secure the American
Association pennant. Louisville would tie Brooklyn in the 1890 World Series. A teammate of
Hughie Jennings at Louisville and Baltimore, both Taylor and Jennings would attend Cornell
Law School, as well as coach the Cornell baseball team.
At his own request Taylor was traded from Louisville to Baltimore in 1893, along with Hughie
Jennings, in exchange for infielder-outfielder Tim O’Rourke and $1,000 in cash. Ned Hanlon,
Baltimore’s manager, regarded Taylor so highly that he was named Captain of the Orioles. The
deal is principally remembered now for including Jennings as a throw-in to compensate for the
fact Taylor was delayed joining Baltimore that year until he finished his law school classes at
Cornell. Taylor hit .283 in 88 games at first base for Baltimore in 1893, then retired from major-
league baseball. He finished with a .286 career batting average, while Jennings became a
valuable member of Baltimore’s three championship teams in 1894, 1895, and 1896, and a
member of the Hall of Fame.
Taylor made a lasting contribution to baseball history through his legal services that helped to
elevate the American League to major-league status in 1901. As the lawyer for the Players
Protective Association, an early ballplayers union, Taylor issued the crucial legal opinion to his
ballplayer constituents that it was his belief that the reserve clause in the National League’s
standard player contract had “no legal value.” Taylor’s legal analysis set the stage for Napoleon
Lajoie, Jimmy Collins, and dozens of other ballplayers to jump from the National League and
establish the American League as a serious competitor to the then-monopoly National League.
Taylor went to serve as a judge in New York state for nearly four decades.
SABR Biography: Harry Taylor