The Woodstock Invincibles
Woodstock Invincible banner
The Woodstock History Center has a hand painted banner in its collection with an eagle, 14 stars and the words “Woodstock Invincibles” on it. Our research had not found any reference as to who the Invincibles were, until a search of old Woodstock newspapers yielded a clue in a story titled “Base Ball Today” in the Spirit of the Age.
The story talks about “A game of considerable interest and importance comes off this afternoon, when the Invincibles, under Manager Eugene L. Taylor, play the ‘Owls’ on Vail field. The contest is for the championship of the Maple Syrup league, which was unsettled last year and which has been the chief topic of discussion in semi-professional base ball circles through the winter, spring and early summer…”
This article reveals the name of the baseball team and puts into context the banner which we knew nothing about. More importantly, we have a name associated with the team. The manager, Eugene Leroy Taylor, was an African American man born in Rutland in 1874. By the time of his first marriage (1896), he was living in Woodstock. In 1900, Eugene was playing baseball with a Woodstock club on Vail Field. Eleven years later, Eugene Taylor was the manager of the team, now called The Invincibles.
Further research utilizing various census and marriage records indicate that Eugene’s occupation was a laborer, gardener, chauffeur and painter. They do not list where he lived, however we can guess that he possibly lived on South Street (across from Vail Field) where a large number of Woodstock’s African Americans lived. Perhaps we can also surmise that Eugene, a painter by trade, painted the banner for the team he managed. We will keep digging into this fascinating story and hope to prove that our banner was painted by an African American baseball manager around 1911.
Unfortunately, our Invincibles banner is not in great condition, probably from having hung outside at baseball games for some years. However, it is wonderful to have found out more about what it represents.