Nickname(s): El Cuchara
A HREF="../H/Henry_John.stm">John Henry
- Led League in ba 10, 15, 28
- Hall Of Fame in 1977
Pop Lloyd, premier Negro League shortstop and baseball nomad, was promoted by many
as the greatest player of all time. He played on at least a dozen different teams
in his 26-year career. When asked why so many teams, Lloyd replied, "Where the money
was, that's where I played." A tall, angular man with a Dick Tracy profile, Lloyd
was a nondrinking, soft-spoken gentleman who seldom cursed. He was a complete professional,
on and off the field.
Lloyd was a lefthanded line-drive hitter who used a closed
stance. He held the bat in the cradle of his left elbow, and would uncoil to unleash
a controlled attack on the baseball. A gifted runner with long, smooth strides, he
deceived opponents into underrating his speed. He was often compared to Honus Wagner.
Connie Mack of the Philadelphia A's, who spent 50 years in the game, said, "Put Lloyd
and Wagner in the same bag and whichever one you pulled out, you wouldn't go wrong."
began as a catcher in 1905 with the Macon Acmes, who could not provide him with a
mask. After one season, he moved to the Cuban X-Giants as an infielder. He helped
the Philadelphia Giants to a league championship the following year and stayed two
more. He spent 1910 with the Leland Giants, who posted a 123-6 record, before moving
on to the New York Lincoln Giants, for whom he hit .475 in 1911 and .376 in 1912.
Foster enticed Lloyd to join his Chicago American Giants, and from 1914 through 1917
Lloyd batted cleanup for the four-time Western League champions. His teammates there
included such greats as Oscar Charleston, Bingo DeMoss, Louis Santop, Smokey Joe
Williams, and Cannonball Dick Redding. Chicago won world championships in '14 and
Lloyd played 12 seasons in Cuba, where he earned the nickname El Cuchara -
The Shovel. He was known for scooping up handfuls of dirt while adeptly fielding
his position. In Cuba, he compiled a .329 batting average and twice led the league
in triples. He excelled in a 1910 series played in Havana against the Detroit Tigers.
The Tigers won 7 of the 12 games, with Ty Cobb itting .369 in five contests. But
Cobb's average was only good enough for fourth place; Lloyd batted .500 in 12 games
and added insult to injury by tagging Cobb out on three consecutive basestealing
attempts. In 29 recorded games against white major leaguers, Lloyd batted .321.
Lloyd's legs began to go, he moved from SS to first base. Approaching age thirty-five,
he signed with the Brooklyn Royal Giants as player-manager, and was active for three
abbreviated seasons before going to the Columbus Buckeyes in 1921. Then thirty-eight,
Lloyd led the Buckeyes in games, hits, doubles, and stolen bases while batting .337.
Rejuvenated, he topped the .320 mark for Hilldale in 1923 and for the Bacharach Giants
in 1924-25. He was forty-four when he hit a league-leading .564 for the New York
Lincoln Giants in 1928; he also led with 11 HR and 10 SB in a 37-game schedule.
Babe Ruth was interviewed by pioneering announcer Graham McNamee, he was asked who
was the greatest player of all time. Ruth asked, "You mean major leaguers?" "No,"
replied McNamee, "the greatest player anywhere." "In that case," responded Ruth,
"I'd pick John Henry Lloyd." Lloyd was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Committee
on Negro Baseball Leagues in 1977.
|FROM THE BASEBALL CHRONOLOGY|
|» September 3, 1906: The Philadelphia Giants win the Negro Championship Cup on Labor Day in Philadelphia before 10,000 fans, black baseball's largest crowd ever. Rube Foster pitches them to a 3-2 victory over the Cuban X-Giants, who have John Henry Lloyd in the lineup. |
» October 15, 1911: In an exhibition game in New York, Honus Wagner, Walter Johnson, Gabby Street and other white major leaguers take on the Lincoln Giants, a star-studded black team featuring Pop Lloyd, Dick McClelland, and Louis Santop. Johnson K's 14 to give the white all-stars a 5–3 win.
» February 3, 1977: The Hall of Fame's Special Committee on the Negro Leagues picks Martin Dihigo, the versatile Cuban star, and SS John Lloyd for induction. The committee then dissolves, its functions being taken over by the veterans committee.