New York Lincoln Giants

From BR Bullpen

The New York Lincoln Giants were one of the top Negro League teams of the Deadball Era. Founded in 1911 by Jess McMahon, the club from New York, NY went 7-5 against other top black teams that year, the best record in the east. Pop Lloyd managed the team, which included Dick Redding (5-1), Lloyd (.360) and catchers Pete Booker (.405) and Louis Santop (.333). The Giants played four games against the Eastern League's Jersey City Skeeters, winning three of them.

The club went 5-4 the next year against top black teams. Booker moved to first base and Santop to the outfield part-time so that both could play regularly. Lloyd (.162) struggled and Redding (2-2) was not as dominant but the team added two more stars, OF Spot Poles and P Smokey Joe Williams (3-2). Playing the New York Giants on October 27, the Lincoln Giants won 6-0 as Williams 4-hit the National League team. Lloyd had 2 hits, as did latecomer Home Run Johnson. Williams shut out two other groups of big-leaguers that year.

New York did even better in 1913, going 16-7 against other black teams. Johnson (.382) and Lloyd (.325) made a fine middle infield while Williams went 12-5 with a 3.87 RA. He went 7-2 with one save in a 20-day span against the Chicago American Giants, the top midwestern team. He also beat a team of 5 Philadelphia Phillies position players and Grover Cleveland Alexander by a 9-2 score, with 9 strikeouts. Williams aided his cause by homering off of Alexander.

The team saw new ownership in 1914 when McMahon formed the New York Lincoln Stars. Jim Keenan took the helm and the Lincoln Giants fell to 15-14. Santop hit .571 and Poles batted .481. Redding (4-4) and Williams (6-4) were not nearly as dominant. Williams beat the Philadelphia Phillies by a 10-4 score and tied Rube Marquard and a couple other New York Giants 1-1. Overall the Lincoln Giants were at least 3-0 against white big-league teams to this point in their history and 3-1 against white teams from the top minor leagues.

The Giants were 5-0 against major black teams in 1915. Williams went 2-0 as Redding moved to the Lincoln Stars. Frank Earle managed the club, which had lost most of its stars (Lloyd, Johnson and Santop were also gone). Williams shut out the Buffalo Buffeds 3-0 but lost a 4-2 decision to the New York Giants as Jeff Tesreau fanned 17 of the Lincoln Giants. They played the Phillies without Gavvy Cravath and Alexander and Williams won 1-0 on a 3-hitter then lost 4-2. The Lincoln Giants fell to 11-8 in 1916 as Williams was just 5-6 though Redding went 4-1. The club bounced back to an 11-3 record in 1917 as Williams went 9-1 and hit .474. There are stories of Williams fanning 20 NY Giants in a game and beating Walter Johnson 1-0 but neither has been substantiated by newspaper accounts.

New York was 11-8 in 1918 as Williams continued to dazzle on both ends (7-2 on the mound, .514 at the plate), operating as a one-man show. Redding had left after 1916 and Williams (9-2) continued to carry the load effectively. 3B Todd Allen batted .434 and OF Blainey Hall .391. Williams slipped in 1919 with an 0-3 record and the team lost the only game he did not get the decision in. They were 10-7 a year later as Williams (7-1) bounced back. Jules Thomas now was the player-manager. The club was 8-4 in 1922 as Williams went 4-0.

Change came in 1923 when the team joined the new Eastern Colored League. They finished 5th at 16-22 in the six-team ECL. 1B Bob Hudspeth (.361) led the ECL with 11 triples, Poles hit .248, Tubby Scales .548 and 3B Oliver Marcelle .306. Williams was 5-4 while newcomer Dave Brown went 7-9 as the new main pitcher.

New York improved to 55-44 and third place in 1924 as Brown went 22-11 to finish second in the league in wins. Managed by Keenan and Judy Gans, the team got a balanced offensive effort, led by 2B Scales' .343 and Hudspeth (.313)'s 6 homers, third in the league. Red Taylor went 15-8 and the team did not appear to miss the loss of Williams after 11 amazing years.

They fell to 15-20 the next year under Thomas's management. Scales (.342) was one of the few bright spots and 38-year-old Smokey Joe returned but lost both decisions he was involved in. The 1926 campaign saw the Giants with a 23-30 record. Lloyd came back to manage and play second base; he was tied for third in the ECL with a .346 average. Scales slipped to .173 and no one else topped .300. Williams, Brown and Taylor were all gone by now, leaving the staff weak. Lloyd's club was 21-22 in 1927 though Pop hit .350, Scales bounced back to .437 and OF Charlie Mason hit .362. The team was 17-21 in the ECL's last season. 44-year-old Lloyd won the batting title (.563) while Scales (.277) was tied for 4th in homers (9), second in doubles (15) and tied for second with 9 steals, one behind Lloyd.

In 1929 the American Negro League replaced the ECL and the Lincoln Giants had the best winning percentage (.679) with a 38-18 record but the Baltimore Black Sox were given the title. OF Chino Smith led the league in average (.464), homers (23) and doubles (27). Lloyd moved to first and hit .362; Scales replaced him at second and batted .387. John Beckwith hit .464 while with the team and Connie Rector went 20-2.

The Lincoln Giants went out on a high note with a 26-3 record in the east in 1930 when there was no league. Lloyd hit .434 at age 46, Beckwith batted .493, LF Clint Thomas .437 and RF Smith again led in average (.492) and doubles (17). He tied for the triple lead with 5 and was tied for second with 7 homers. Beckwith hit 6 homers, Thomas was second in average and doubles (14) and Lloyd was third in average. Turkey Stearnes hit .377 with 5 triples. Bill Holland (12-1), Red Farrell (9-1) and Rector (3-0) were nearly unbeatable with this attack behind them. They lost a postseason series with the Homestead Grays 6 games to 4 as Smith (.214) and Thomas (.243) struggled; Lloyd still hit .375.

In 1931 the Lincoln Giants vanished after two decades on the scene, replaced by the New York Harlem Stars.

Sources: The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues by John Holway, The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James Riley