Pop Lloyd

Positions: Shortstop; First Baseman; Catcher; Manager
Teams: Macon Acmes; Cuban X-Giants; Brooklyn Royal Giants; Philadelphia Giants; Leland Giants; New York Lincoln Giants; Chicago American Giants; Columbus Buckeyes; Atlantic City Bacharach Giants; Philadelphia Hilldales; New York Harlem Stars, 1905-1932

Pop Lloyd first jumped from semipro baseball to the black professional leagues in 1905 at age 21, and he was a good enough player to play semipro until he was age 58. He was a very good defensive shortstop for most of the early days in his career, and he showcased a line-drive stroke that drove his average to dizzying heights.

Pop Lloyd had a long career, playing baseball from age 21 to age 58.
Pop Lloyd had a long career, playing
baseball from age 21 to age 58.

Born in northeast Florida, John Henry Lloyd (1884-1964) started playing semipro ball in his mid-teens. Moving to the Cuban X-Giants in 1905, Pop, like other gifted players of his generation, began his career as a catcher. By 1907, he was a shortstop and a cleanup hitter. Lloyd played for whatever team could pay him. He spent time on various Philadelphia teams, New York and New Jersey teams, and the Chicago American Giants, among others.

As a star player, Lloyd was in demand for All-Star games and tours to Cuba and the West Coast, but the uncertain financial situation of the black leagues forced him to miss spring training at times in order to work a conventional job.

In a 1910 12-game exhibition series in Cuba against the Detroit Tigers, Lloyd went 11-for-22. While the Bengals won seven games, Ty Cobb (who batted .370) was sufficiently embarrassed to vow never to play against blacks again. In 1914, Rube Foster enticed Pop to play for the Chicago American Giants. In the Windy City he teamed with “Home Run” Johnson in a legendary double-play combination. He helped lead the American Giants to championships in 1914 and 1917.

Lloyd was often likened to Honus Wagner, a comparison Wagner was proud to acknowledge. It was an apt analogy, because like Honus, Lloyd was highly regarded, was a terrific hitter, and was known to scoop up dirt and pebbles along with ground balls. From his playing days in Cuba, Pop’s other nickname was “Cuchara,” Spanish for “Shovel.”

At age 44 in 1928, still in the pros, Pop hit .564 in 37 games, with 11 homers and 10 steals. The next year, he hit .388. Pitcher Sam Streeter said “Everything he hit was just like you were hanging out clothes on a line.” Not only was Pop a great hitter, but he had an intimate knowledge of the game.

In 1915, Lloyd had the first of many stints as a player-manager, and in 1921 he took charge of the short-lived Columbus, Ohio, franchise in Rube Foster’s new Negro National League. It was there that he finally acquired his nickname, and he was mentor to a new generation. He was named to the Hall of Fame in 1977.

Here are Pop Lloyd's Negro League statistics*:

.368 477 1,769 651 90 18 26 56
*Note: Lloyd’s statistics are for games that were recorded from 1914 to 1932 only.

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