After the Boston Americans won the first 20th-century World Series in 1903, General Charles Henry Taylor, a Civil War veteran and publisher of the Boston Globe, bought the team only to give his son, John a thinly veiled attempt by a busy father to keep his playboy son out of trouble. The selling price was reported to be about $145,000 and the Globe would assure strong, sustained media coverage of the team’s activities.

John Irving Taylor was from Somerville, Mass. and was the third and youngest son. He had two brothers (William and Charles) and two sisters (Elizabeth and Grace).After graduating from high school, John went to work for the Globe. Being a good amateur athlete, he found himself increasingly drawn to baseball.

At 29, John became the Boston team president. While thoroughly enjoying social occasions that included good drinks and lively women, Taylor was also both analytical and outspoken. He had great admiration for those who knew and measured up to their jobs. He was better fitted to ride with winning teams than to deal with the bumps of losing. When the team lost, Taylor became a hot-tempered, sarcastic taskmaster to many of his players and managers.

In June 1904, the club sent hard-hitting and highly popular outfielder Patsy Dougherty to the New York Highlanders for utilityman Bob Unglaub. It was easily one of the most one-sided trades in Boston baseball history. Boston baseball fans were irate, blamed Taylor and his new organization and he became a laughingstock not only in Boston but within professional baseball. Only winning the pennant saved Taylor from a groundswell in Boston calling for his immediate removal.

After Boston won the 1904 pennant, beating New York on the final day of the season, Taylor immediately issued a public challenge to the New York Giants to play a world championship series. (The World Series was not yet a fixed, permanent event.) Giants owner John T. Brush, did not want to further elevate the American League to equal standing with the National League, refused.

It was player-manager Jimmy Collins who ran the team, while Taylor just signed the checks. After the season, without consulting Collins, Taylor sent new contracts to the players calling for a general cut in salaries. The players began grumbling immediately and the working relationship between Collins and Taylor began to deteriorate rapidly. Both wanted to have the power of a modern-day general manager to run the team. General Taylor then sent his son to Europe to cool things off.

Collins considered many of his 1905 players his friends and unwisely trusted them to do the right thing. He gave his team a lot of leeway in spring training and remained loyal to the group even as they faded from contention. Boston dropped to fourth place, 16 games behind the pennant-winning Philadelphia Athletics. Except for Jesse Tannehill (22-9), no starting pitcher finished with a record above .500. The team simply didn’t score many runs. Cy Young had a 1.82 ERA and was 18-19.

His players who jumped from the National League to help establish both the Boston franchise and the American League were getting into their late 30s.

The team plunged through the cellar door in 1906. They finished in last place and were the worst in major-league baseball that season. As a team, the Americans’ hitting and pitching both dropped significantly. One of the most symbolic events of this horrible season was the team’s 20-game losing streak, which set a major league record at the time.

The Taylor vs. Collins struggle for team control continued. In the clubhouse, particularly after a losing game, Taylor would sarcastically berate each player he thought should have performed better. Collins then strongly discouraged Taylor from going into the clubhouse.

With a bad knee, Collins began not playing regularly any more and began not wearing his uniform on the bench. He subsequently made outfielder Chick Stahl the temporary manager and took off to a nearby beach. In late August, Collins was suspended and Stahl took over as acting manager for the rest of the season.

In 1907, Taylor had a hectic season, as the club had four managers and one acting manager. The manager shuffle began after Chick Stahl committed suicide during spring training. He swallowed carbolic acid after writing a suicide note. The Americans ended 32½ games behind the first-place Detroit Tigers in seventh place.

In December 1907, Taylor announced that he was going to change the name of the Boston team from the Americans to the Red Sox for the coming year. Boston’s National League team had dropped their characteristic red stockings after the 1907 season, and Taylor quickly adopted them for his team.

The newly renamed Red Sox finished in fifth place. and their old-to-new transition continued. The Red Sox sold or traded three 1903-04 holdovers, Hobe Ferris (to the Highlanders), Freddy Parent (to the Chicago White Sox), and Bob Unglaub (to Washington).

Taylor was investing in his team, and knew he had to restock his team. His intensive scouting effort began to pay dividends. Traditionally most ballplayers had come from New England and the northeast, which is where baseball was most popular. But as professional baseball spread, there was a growing demand for young players. Taylor decided to head west to find new talent. 

The first major signing by Taylor was a young Texan named Tris Speaker. Californian Harry Hooper soon came to the team along with a young Kansas native named Joe Wood.  At midseason, Taylor traded for Jake Stahl, who played a solid first base for the remainder of the season. As a former player-manager for Washington, Stahl provided a much-needed stabilizing influence in the clubhouse.

Although the 1908 Red Sox experienced significant transition, two of the biggest moves were made in the next off-season. Sox fans were bewildered when Taylor traded Cy Young to Cleveland in February 1909. The trade ultimately yielded little for the Red Sox (Charley Chech, Jack Ryan, and $12,500).

With the departure of longtime favorites, Sox fans started 1909 with low expectations and were pleasantly surprised when their team finished in third place. As the season progressed, the Red Sox young players began making a larger impact. Tris Speaker, Harry Lord, and Harry Hooper all had good seasons.

Once again, there was a managerial change in November 1909, when Patsy Donovan, a major-league outfielder for 17 years, was brought in as the new Red Sox manager. But after surging in 1909, the Red Sox fell back a bit in 1910.

Because of Taylor’s fondness for the West Coast, he decided to have the team hold spring training at Redondo Beach, California, near Los Angeles, in 1911. A large number of players were brought into camp, enough to furnish two touring teams, and after a full schedule of games along the California coast, they broke into two teams and played games as they traveled east, in Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Texas, Nebraska, and Missouri – 63 games in all.

In 1911, Californian Charley Hall joined the team along with outfielder Duffy Lewis. They joined New Englanders Buck O'Brien, Bill Carrigan, Ray Collins and Larry Gardner.

Many fans and critics rank the Lewis-Speaker-Hooper outfield combination as the greatest of all time. Other outfields may have had more slugging power (Meusel, Combs, Ruth) but the Red Sox trio had better defensive skills.

As the 1911 season started, the Taylor family decided to leave the Huntington Avenue Grounds, which had been leased since the franchise began in 1901. The Taylors decided to use land they owned and build a ballpark to be called Fenway Park.

The Fenway Park project was a part of a bigger deal in which two key Taylor family objectives could be accomplished. By selling a share of the team after the new park was under way, the family would recoup a huge financial reward from its original investment and John could shed the headaches of operating the team while still being associated with it.

As soon as the new stadium construction started, the Taylors sold half of their interest in the Red Sox for $150,000. The sale price recouped their original investment. They needed the money to complete the construction of Fenway Park and when finished, the stadium reportedly cost $350,000.

A key part of the deal was that the family would remain the owners of Fenway Park and the land on which it was built, the park serving as a magnet to help develop the value of their adjoining real estate holdings in the Fenway area. The subsequent team owners would rent the park for $30,000 a year.

In January 1912, Jimmy McAleer was named president of the Boston Red Sox. He and Robert McRoy had become owners of a 50% share of the ballclub in a sale in September 1911.

The Globe later estimated that over the span of Taylor ownership (1904-1911), John had acquired more than 110 players in his efforts to improve the team. In his obituary, in 1938, the Globe concluded, “While he was in the game, there was no closer student of the game than John I. Taylor. It was mainly on his own judgment of players themselves that he finally brought to Boston so many ‘naturals’ who came flying up to the big league grade.”

dJohn I Taylor died in hospital following a brief illness on January 26, 1938, aged 63. He was inducted to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2012.