In the 1920s Sportswriter Graham McNamee interviewed Babe Ruth. Part of that interview follows...
McNamee: Babe, who is the best player in baseball?
Ruth: You mean major-leaguers?
McNamee: No, the greatest player anywhere.
Ruth: In that case, I'd pick John Henry Lloyd
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Pop was one of the first great large shortstops in baseball, something said about Cal Ripken Jr. decades later. Like Ripken, Pop was big and strong, could hit in the cleanup spot, and fielded his position as well as smaller men. (It should be noted that Lloyd was a little over 6 foot tall, but this was considered tall in his day.)
In 1906 Lloyd was honing his baseball skills on the sandlots of Jacksonville when Rube Foster and Sol White, the two greatest baseball minds in the Negro Leagues discovered him and brought him to the Black Big Leagues. For the next 25 years Lloyd was forever being compared to contemporary Major Leaguers, especially Honus Wagner who was also a hard hitting shortstop who had the same habit of fielding a handful of dirt with every groundball. In Cuba Lloyd was nicknamed "El Cuchara"--"The Tablespoon" for his scooping style.
For of his career Lloyd traveled where the money was, and he wasn't afraid to jump for a few extra bucks. One thing can't be denied, though--he won wherever he played.
Lloyds lifetime average is listed at .368, and .322 against major-leaguers in exhibitions.
In a celebrated exhibition series against the Detroit Tigers in 1910, Lloyd batted .500, leading such hitters as Ty Cobb and Bobby Veech.
John Henry earned the nickname "Pop" as a mild-mannered manager for many of the teams he played for who neither drank nor swore.
He also was a popular figure in Atlantic City until the day he died, playing semipro ball into his 60s, and spinning yards to young children when he worked as a school custodian.
Lloyd, the best all-around player of the early 1900s was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977.