Academic journal article Base Ball

Ashley Lloyd: A Modest but Constructive Presence in Baseball's Executive Chambers

Academic journal article Base Ball

Ashley Lloyd: A Modest but Constructive Presence in Baseball's Executive Chambers

Article excerpt

Like the hotel wallpaper, Ashley Lloyd was little-noticed at the National League meetings that he regularly attended as a front office executive and minority-interest baseball club owner. Now a century later, Lloyd is virtually forgotten, with his name mentioned only in passing, if at all, in most histories of the Cincinnati Reds and New York Giants, the teams that he was associated with for more than 30 years. This is in keeping with the low public profile that Lloyd maintained throughout his life. About the only significant newsprint attention ever paid to him came in late 1912, when Lloyd assumed the post of co-executor of the estate of recently deceased Giants boss John T. Brush, his longtime friend and senior baseball partner. Yet despite relative anonymity, Lloyd was not unappreciated by baseball insiders. When Lloyd himself died a dozen years later, the National League officially expressed its regrets on the passing of the quiet man who "was the balance more than once that stood between extreme radicalism and extreme conservatism" in NL councils,1 while one syndicated sports pundit described Lloyd as "one of the league's staunchest and sanest advisors."2

The inclination to recede into the background was an ingrained character trait, and one that also attended Lloyd in the pharmaceutical business where he made his fortune. Here, his efforts to build the family pharmacy chain into a national leader in drug wholesaling were overshadowed by the celebrity of his brothers, the once-famous scientist- novelist John Uri Lloyd (1849-1936) and the noted mycologist Curtis Gates Lloyd (1859-1926). But the unassuming other Lloyd brother "had his passions, his interests [and] places where he left his mark," as well.3

Among those passions was baseball, where Ashley Lloyd made the modest but constructive contributions to the National Pastime that will be recalled in the paragraphs below.

Nelson Ashley Lloyd was born on November 17, 1851, in Lima, New York, a small town located about 25 miles south of Rochester.4 He was the second of three sons born to merchant/civil engineer Nelson Marvin Lloyd (1820-1882), and his wife Sophia (nee Webster, 1820-1903), a descendent of lexicographer Noah Webster. When Ashley (as he preferred to be called) was just a toddler, the family moved to Boone County, Kentucky, a place later memorialized in his brother John Uri's novels. Growing up near the Ohio River, Ashley aspired to the life of a river pilot, but was persuaded by his parents to follow in John Uri's footsteps and apprentice to a Cincinnati pharmacist.5 By 1876, John Uri and Ashley were on their own and operating a laboratory "for the study of plant material medica."6 A short time later, they merged that venture with H.M. Merrell & Company, a wholesale drug company in Cincinnati. John Uri, a self-taught pharmaceutical genius, remained in the lab, while Ashley took to the road to drum up business. In time, youngest brother Curtis, a botanist who would go on to do pioneering work with mushrooms (mycology), joined the firm.

In 1886, the three brothers bought out the Merrell interests and launched their own pharmaceutical business, Lloyd Brothers, Pharmacists, Inc. Although partners, the Lloyds were an odd mix. Oldest brother John Uri was one of the country's leading medical researchers, doing much to transform pharmacognosy from quackery into a science.7 He was not, however, without his eccentricities. A pharmacy school professor in his spare time, John Uri would not permit note-taking during his lectures. He expected students to commit his instruction to memory.8 Later, he segued from medicine into the authorship of allegorical novels set in the northern Kentucky of his boyhood. Youngest sibling Curtis, meanwhile, was a flashy, impetuous character, given to world travel and lavish spending. Although supported by income from the family business, Curtis spent much of his time on personal interests, his energies devoted to examining and collecting mushroom specimens, and producing monographs on mycology. …

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