Area’s 17th annual tribute to ‘Pop’ Lloyd this weekend
lasting tributes to the spirit of Pop Lloyd
Any celebration of John Henry “Pop” Lloyd has two natural centers in Atlantic City.
The first is Pop Lloyd Stadium at Huron and Indiana avenues. The second is Pop’s church, the Historic Asbury United Methodist Church.
Lloyd was present when the stadium was first opened in 1949. Championed by then political boss Frank S. “Hap” Farley, records show that the stadium was built for about $100,000, a fortune in 1949.
“We believe that it is the oldest substantial commemoration to the Negro Leagues in the country,” says Michael Everett, project coordinator for Atlantic City’s Pop Lloyd Committee, which was originally formed to refurbish the field. “There may be a few others — we’ve heard of Josh Gibson field at an airbase somewhere — but nothing like an actual stadium. You have to remember this was in 1949, just two years after Jackie Robinson broke the Major League color barrier. There weren’t a lot of commemorations of black history and the Negro leagues going on.”
In fact, an investigation by the PBS show History Detectives concluded that the stadium was built by Farley to keep his support strong in the city’s black community and secure the votes he counted on each Election Day.
A tad cynical maybe, but less so is the connection Lloyd, the field named after him and churches like the Asbury United Methodist Church (which Lloyd and his family attended) had with the African-American community.
“Sunday was always the day that baseball drew the biggest crowd,” Everett says. “In the African-American community, you went to church in the morning and then you went to the game.”
A special commemorative service is held each year at the church to close out the annual Pop Lloyd Weekend celebration.
“The original church [the church moved from Arctic Avenue in 1998] was Pop’s church,” Everett says. “He and his wife were there every Sunday. We’ve scheduled different events in different years and sometimes money doesn’t let us do everything we want, but the church service is always held. That would be important to him.”
17th Annual Pop Lloyd Weekend Celebration
When: Oct. 2-4; times vary
Where: Various locations
How Much: Friday’s events are free and open to public
More Info: Call 513-2783
John Henry “Pop” Lloyd was born and raised in Florida and passed away nearly 50 years ago, but his name is still mentioned often in this area and his memory lives on, without exception, as one of Atlantic City’s most revered adopted sons.
From Pop Lloyd to Pattie Harris to Nucky Johnson and the Northside, not to mention Nina Simone and Sam Cooke and other entertainers' connections to Atlantic City and region.
Mrs. Elaine Milan is the perfect match for her husband, clearly intelligent, thoughtful and attractive. She had already graduated from Hampton University when she arrived in A.C. in 1964 to work at Indiana Avenue School, and later, she earned her master’s degree at Glassboro.
Today, most funding comes from city grants, local businesses and casino donations.
“I really don’t think there is a name as beloved in baseball as Clemente’s,” says Michael Everett, director of the Pop Lloyd Committee. “We already know a lot of people are turning out solely because of the connection to Clemente. It’s really amazing the command and the respect the name brings with it.”
In 2010, Navarro wasn’t just remembered as the last player to take the field with Lloyd, on opposing teams, but was believed to be the oldest living professional baseball player anywhere.
This year, the 17th annual John Henry "Pop" Lloyd weekend celebration kicked off on Friday, Oct. 2, with a slate of speakers in the Performing Arts Center at Richard Stockton College, beginning at 9am. Among the speakers were Belinda Manning, Pop Lloyd Committee president; Jerry Izenberg, Star Ledger columnist and author of Through My Eyes, Glenn Stout, author of From Highlands to History, Peter Golenbock and author of Jackie & Monte among numerous sports books. Baseball great Monte Irvin, Former Negro League and MLB star, will be joining other celebrants as the special weekend continues Saturday evening, Oct. 3, for the annual “Pop” Lloyd Dinner & Awards Program Honoring Veteran Negro League Players, which will be held in Atlantic City at the Trump Taj Mahal at 6pm. Tomorrow on, Sunday, Oct. 4, the weekend continues with a “Pop” Lloyd Commemorative Church Service at the Historic Asbury United Methodist Church, 1213 Pacific Ave., in Atlantic city at 10am. The things shift over to the Garden Pier where the Atlantic City Art Center will hold a special reception for the exhibit “Baseball & Jazz: The Art of Wayne Manns," which beings at 2pm. To find out more about the former baseball player who Babe Ruth...
Pop Lloyd played professional baseball in the Negro Leagues from 1906 to 1932, as a shortstop, second baseman and first baseman, including two stints with the Bacharach Giants of Atlantic City. In 1910 he out-hit Ty Cobb in a Cuban winter league series — .500 to .385.
In the eighth episode of this multi-part series, the distinguished panel of Atlantic City historians and authors start to discuss the wild history of sporting events in the resort — from boxing and cat boxing to indoor football and Yankees baseball.