Atlantic City’s Mr. October

Area’s 17th annual tribute to ‘Pop’ Lloyd this weekend

By Michael Pritchard
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Oct. 1, 2009

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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

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