Originally organized by the American Brewing Company (thus "A.B.C.s") in the early 20th century, the team was managed by Ran Butler in 1911. It was then purchased by Thomas Bowser, a white bail bondsman, in 1912. Two years later, C. I. Taylor, formerly of the Birmingham Giants and West Baden Sprudels, purchased a half-interest in the ABCs, and became the team's manager. Taylor stocked the ABCs with his brothers Ben, John, and Jim, all among the best African-American players in baseball. Taylor was a noted judge of young talent; some of the well-known players he brought to the big time included center fielder Charleston, second baseman Bingo DeMoss, third baseman-outfielder Dave Malarcher, outfielder George Shively, and pitchers Dizzy Dismukes, Jim Jeffries, and Dicta Johnson
By 1915, the ABCs were already challenging Rube Foster's Chicago American Giants for supremacy in black baseball. That year they defeated the American Giants in a series for the western black championship, though Foster disputed the title. That year, Taylor cut a deal to use the park left when the city's entry in the Federal League dissolved; Bowser disagreed with the deal, and two owners parted company, each organizing a rival ABCs squad. Taylor had the better of the contest for talent, retaining the core of the 1915 team, and again claiming a disputed championship over the American Giants.
In 1917, Bowser sold his club, generally known as Bowser's ABCs, to a black businessman named Warner Jewell. Jewell's ABCs, playing at Northwestern Park, continued as a sort of farm club to Taylor's team. Federal League Park was torn down, and Taylor turned to Washington Park, the home of the minor league Indianapolis Indians. The Chicago American Giants were generally recognized as western champions for 1917, finally ending the ABCs' two-year claim on the title