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Sentimental Sunday: Maxwell House Baseball Team

My paternal grandfather, Willie Taylor, loved, loved, LOVED, baseball!  But what I didn’t know until now was —  he was the head coach of the all black Maxwell House Company Baseball Team during the 1950’s and 1960’s!

Maxwell House Baseball Team

Coach Willie Taylor (standing left) with the all black Maxwell House Baseball Team

 

I tell you, this photo of my grandfather with the company’s all black baseball team is a true TREASURE!

So what does the history of baseball and Maxwell House have in common? Well, according to, You Know You’re in New Jersey When . . . by Lillian and Nina Africano, the first baseball game in the US was not played in Cooperstown, New York;

the first recorded organized baseball game was played on June 19, 1846, at Hoboken’s Elysian Fields, later site of the Maxwell House Coffee plant.” [1]

I don’t know if  Maxwell House facilities in Jacksonville, FL, and San Leandro, CA had company baseball teams, but the Houston factory sure did and their success kept them playing baseball for many years!

 

Willie Taylor and Maxwell House Baseball Team

Coach Taylor (facing forward with his arms folded) listens intently with a player and assistant coaches to someone involved with the league

 

The section of the book titled, “You Know You’re in New Jersey When . . . Diamonds are a Boy’s Best Friend,” goes on to say,

By 1900 baseball had truly become America’s pastime, and practically every town in Jersey had a baseball team. Company teams like the Newark Westinghouse Nine, the Doherty Silk Sox of Paterson, and the Michelin Tire Company team of Millville were among the strongest.”

Jersey wasn’t the only state with popular company baseball teams on the horizon during that time. Texas had some prominent company baseball teams too such as the Alamo Furniture Baseball Team in Houston, Southern Pine Lumber Baseball Team from East Texas, The Southern Select Baseball Team, the Pepsi-Cola Ball Club better known as the Austin 9, and of course — the Maxwell House Baseball Team!

Maxwell House All Black Baseball Team

My oldest brother remembers after little league practice watching in “awe” the Maxwell House baseball team pitching and power-hitting on the baseball fields at Finnegan Park — located in the Greater 5th Ward Community! Grand-dad was a quiet man by nature. Oh but when he stepped on a baseball field with his team, he transformed into a force to be reckoned with!

He started coaching the Maxwell House team before I was born. But my brother promises that if I had been old enough to go to games, I would have loved his unique coaching style and his team’s fierce competitive spirit! My brother, who is in his sixties now, says some of the men who grew up around Finnegan Park during that time, still talk about how great Maxwell House played baseball. The fact that they rarely lost a game made them real legends for the company and for Houston’s 5th Ward community too!

 If you recognize any of the players in the photos above, I would love to hear from you.

If you have Coach Willie Taylor in your family research, definitely let me hear from you because . . . I’m claiming kin!

Source Citation:

1. Africano, Lillian, and Nina Africano. “You Know You’re in New Jersey When . . . Diamonds Are a Boy’s Best Friend.” You Know You’re in New Jersey When . . .: 101 Quintessential Places, People, Events, Customs, Lingo, and Eats of the Garden State. First ed. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot, 2007. 7. Print. You Know You’re In Series.

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