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Dec 26 2010

John Henry Lloyd


John Henry Lloyd

John Henry Lloyd

 

(1884-1965)

Essential to any team’s success during the deadball era was the presence of John Henry Lloyd, the greatest black baseball player during the first two decades of the century. The tall, rangy 5’11”, 180 pounder was the greatest African-American shortstop of his day, and with the exception of Honus Wagner, no major league shortstop could compare with him. He was a complete ballplayer who could hit, run, field, throw, and hit with power when the occasion called for an extra base blow.

A dangerous baserunner and a superlative fielder who knew how to position himself wisely, got a good jump on the ball. He possessed exceptional range and sure hands with which he dug balls out of the dirt like a shovel.

In 1910 Lloyd joined Rube Foster’s Chicago Leland Giants, where he easily fit into the Foster style of play. The following season he returned east to play with the New York Lincoln Giants and led them to three straight championships before rejoining Foster in 1914. In the deadball era, where pitching dominated and teams played for one run, Lloyd excelled at getting the run. He was an exceptional bunter and base-stealer and, with good bat control and an excellent eye at the plate, he was expert at playing hit and run.

Beginning in 1918 when he became the playing-manager of the Brooklyn Royal Giants, Lloyd jumped from one team to another until Hilldale beckoned in 1922. The following year the Eastern Colored League was organized and Lloyd, serving as playing manager, hit .418 to lead Hilldale into the inaugural pennant. Despite winning the pennant, Lloyd was fired because of alleged dissension on the team. Moving the following year to the Bacharach Giants, he continued his hitting heroics by winning the batting title with a .444 average. That season Lloyd was acknowledged as one of the greatest black players ever and was compared to Honus Wagner. Wagner once said that he considered it a privilege to be compared to Lloyd.

After two years with the Bacharachs, Lloyd returned to New York to take the reins of the Lincoln Giants. In 1928 he led the league both in batting (.564) and home runs (11). While that season was a good one for Lloyd personally, it was a disastrous one for the Eastern Colored League which collapsed early in the season.

Lloyd let his hard-hitting Lincoln Giants into the American Negro League in 1929, and hit for a .362 average. Unfortunately, the league folded after a single season and in 1930, Lloyd’s last season at the helm, the Lincolns played as an independent team and fielded their strongest team since Lloyd’s 1913 powerhouse. They lost a hard fought series for the Eastern championship to a strong Homstead Grays team.

The last two years of his playing career were spent with the Bacharach Giants. As a manager Lloyd was known as a master at instilling confidence in younger players. In his latter years he became known affectionately as “Pop” and was considered the elder statesman of black baseball even after he retired in 1932.

In 1977 the man called by some “the greatest baseball player of all time” was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Years played:
1905-32

Positions played:
shortstop, first base, second base, manager

Teams:
Cuban X-Giants, Chicago Leland Giants, Lincoln Giants, Chicago American Giants, Lincoln Starsm Brooklyn Royal Giants, Columbus Buckeyes, Bacharach Giants, Hilldale, New York Black Yankees

Comparable Players:
Honus Wagner


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