Young Giant: John Henry Lloyd
2015 oil on canvas w/ wood and found objects 36 x 84 Collection of the National Pastime Museum, San Francisco, CA
John Henry Lloyd has been credited as the greatest baseball player of the first quarter of the 20th century. He defined the complete player of the deadball era. An excellent bunter and base stealer as well a power hitter, Lloyd could manufacture runs when the game was dominated by pitching. His play in the field was legendary as well. His ability to effortlessly scoop balls out of the dirt and fling them to first earned him the name â€śEl Chucharaâ€ť (The Tablespoon) from his Latin teammates during winter leagues in Cuba.
Lloyd played for well over a dozen Negro Leagues teams in his 27-year career, as was typical for this time of burgeoning clubs and good players looking for the best payday they could find. Curiously, eight of the teams he played for contained the name Giants. This studio portrait in a Philadelphia Giants uniform would have dated him somewhere between 1907-09. It is a rare look at a youthful Lloyd long before he became â€śPopâ€ť, a mid-career playing manager with stellar statistics and an uncanny ability to inspire his teams to championship levels.
Lloydâ€™s lifetime batting average of .368 occupies a lofty place by itself. His tough, aggressive play on the field was contrasted by an easy-going demeanor when off of it. He neither drank nor smoked and was purported to be quite the comedian. Lloyd settled in Atlantic City, New Jersey after playing for his last professional team, the Bacharach Giants, in 1932. He died in 1965 and was voted into the National Baseball Hall of fame in 1977.
This painting, done as a commission for the National Pastime Museum, was painted from a copy of a rare, original photograph showing a young Lloyd posing for a studio portrait.