Adam J. Ulrey
Known as “Handsome Harry” for his movie-star good looks, James Harry Taylor was born on May 20, 1919, in East Glenn, Indiana, near Terre Haute in the west-central part of the state. Harry was one of four children born to Cyrus and Lottie (Burk) Taylor. He had two brothers, Paul and Kenneth, and a sister, Betty. In 1938, after graduating from Fayette High School, he signed to play for Tallahassee, a Dodgers affiliate in the Class D GeorgiaFlorida League, but was released without ever getting into a game.
Nineteen days later, on the advice of scout Chick Mattick, the Chicago White Sox signed Taylor and sent him to the St. Paul Saints of the American Association. Except for a brief stay with Richmond of the Class B Piedmont League in 1939, Harry remained with St. Paul until he enlisted in the army in 1941. Pitching mostly in relief, he won nine games and lost twenty-seven over three years, with an earned run average of 5.30.
During his time in the military, Taylor managed and played for several army teams, pitching three no-hitters. On December 6, 1942, while stationed at Camp Gordon Johnston in Carrabelle, Florida, he married Beulah June “Boots” Collins. Harry’s wife was also from Indiana, having been born March 19, 1920, in Tecumseh, Indiana.
Harry Taylor was inserted into the starting rotation on
May 28 and compiled seven victories and seven complete
games in his first ten starts.
When Taylor returned to St. Paul in 1946, the Saints were a Brooklyn Dodgers farm team. His years in the service had been beneficial to his baseball career. Taylor credited his playing baseball in the army with creating a turning point in his career. “Before I went into the army I didn’t study the game much,” he said. “Because I was the only guy with pro experience on the team, I was made manager. Then I came down with an injury and couldn’t play so I had to manage the team from the bench. Sitting there and watching, I began to follow the game in all of its phases. I’m sure it had a lot to do with my success after my hitch was over.”
Taylor, a six-foot-one, 175-pound right-hander, threw with three different motions: overhand, three-quarters, and side-arm. He liked to make the batter guess what angle the next pitch was coming from. He used either his fastball or his curve as his