Lloyd Christenbury (Trading Card DB)

Lloyd Christenbury

This article was written by Darren Gibson

Lloyd Christenbury (Trading Card DB)On May 1, 1920, Boston Braves rookie pinch-hitter Lloyd Christenbury, in his first official at-bat of the season, beat out a bunt single in the bottom of the ninth inning of a 1-1 tie against the Brooklyn Robins, sending teammate Rabbit Maranville into scoring position. Unfortunately, the Braves could not push across the winning run. Thus, the longest game ever (as of 2023) in major league baseball history continued for 17 more scoreless innings.

Christenbury served as the main pinch-hitter for Boston between 1920 and 1922. The Navy man was the most accomplished position player to hail from Davidson College in North Carolina over the first quarter of the 20th century. Over that period, the small school produced a surprising 11 big-leaguers, six of whom were pitchers. Since then, there have been just four more, the most recent being Dutchman Robert Eenhoorn (1994-97). In the 21st century, Davidson has become best known in sporting circles for basketball superstar Stephen Curry.

Lloyd Reid Christenbury was born on October 19, 1893, in Mecklenburg County (near Charlotte), North Carolina. He was the sixth of 10 children, and one of two sons, born to Dr. Sidney Johnston (S.J.) Christenbury, a veterinarian and farmer, and Frances Arabella (Cannon) Christenbury. As of the 1910 census, 16-year-old Lloyd worked as a laborer on his parents’ farm in Davidson.

By 1913, Lloyd arrived on campus at local Davidson College (whose teams are dubbed the Presbyterians). There – despite his size (5-feet-7 and 165 pounds) – he first lettered in football as a fullback.1

That next spring, he manned third base for the school baseball squad. On May 7, the lefty hitter (who, unsurprisingly for a third baseman, threw righty) belted a triple as Davidson completed “a most successful season” by defeating the University of South Carolina.2 Christenbury then spent the summer of 1914 with the Morganton Bugs, an amateur team comprised of college players. They were the Western division champions in the North Carolina amateur ranks. Then defeated Raeford, the Eastern champs, with Davidson teammate, pitcher Murphy Currie, as an opponent, in late August to cop the state crown.3

Christenbury returned to Davidson’s ball club for 1915, covering second base and leading off for coach Bill Fetzer (whose one game for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1906 made him Davidson’s first man in the majors). The Charlotte News commented, “‘Christy’ is showing great form in his new berth and appears to have at last struck his natural position. He is a lightning like fielder and one of the greatest base stealers in college ball in North Carolina.”4

Once the collegiate season ended, Christenbury inked his first professional contract, with the Charlotte Hornets of the North Carolina State League (Class D). The Hornets started the season 0-12. Christenbury soon replaced manager Bert Emery at second base, and earned a glowing report: “suffice it to say that that fellow was born playing second base.”5 Regardless, Christenbury was released in July, and next rejoined Morganton of the semipro Western North Carolina League.6 He led off and played left field as Morganton fell to the Gastonia Tigers, buttressed by Charles “Chief” Bender (recently released by Baltimore of the Federal League), in three games for the Western title.

For 1916, Christenbury handled shortstop for the Newnan Cowetas of the Georgia-Alabama League (Class D). He supported starting pitcher Bill Terry – later a Hall of Fame first baseman – in a 14-1 victory over Rome (Georgia) in May.7 In July, by then with the Anniston Models, he broke up a no-hit bid by former Newnan teammate Robert Watkins with a bunt in the ninth inning.8 Christenbury hit .297 and was identified as the best shortstop in the GAL for 1916.9 After the GAL campaign, he played 14 games for the Greensboro Patriots back in the North Carolina State League.

Christenbury returned at shortstop for Anniston in 1917, while still being listed as working on his family farm, according to his World War I draft registration. However, the Georgia-Alabama League blew up in late May, so Christenbury joined the Columbia (South Carolina) Comers of the South Atlantic League (Class C) to play shortstop.10 By mid-July, after defeating Charleston for the SAL crown,11 Columbia sold Christenbury to the Chattanooga Lookouts of the Southern Association (Class-A).12

According to the end-of-season stats, Christenbury never recorded a base hit in his short time with the Lookouts.13 However, a closer look reveals that he went 1-for-13 in four mid-July games for Chattanooga, a series that was swept by Birmingham.14 After his release by Chattanooga, in August Christenbury led off and played shortstop for the Pratt City (Alabama) Corsairs of the Birmingham-area Tennessee Coal, Iron, and Railroad (TCI) League, a squad that included former Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Henry Swacina. Pratt City beat future Pirate and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Whitey Glazner and Ensley for the TCI crown, then played a mid-September exhibition against the Birmingham Barons. After that, the Corsairs fell to former major-league pitcher Earl Yingling and the Norwoods in the second round of the National Baseball Federation semipro series in Cincinnati, Ohio.15

Impressed by Christenbury, Cincinnati Reds manager Christy Mathewson had the infielder remain in town for a tryout. Four days later, Christenbury batted second and played shortstop for the visiting Reds in an exhibition loss to the Indianapolis Indians of the American Association.

The Chattanooga club thought it had reacquired Christenbury for the 1918 season, only to find that he had enlisted in the Navy.16 Christenbury served as a supply clerk for Company 94 out of Norfolk, Virginia. In May, he played shortstop for the undefeated Naval Base team in the Fifth Naval District’s Navy League. Teammates included two St. Louis Browns: outfielder Tod Sloan and third baseman Scrappy Moore.17 Christenbury did see duty at sea during the summer. He also played football at the base; for his excellent play on the gridiron, he received his naval discharge 10 days early, during Christmastime 1918.

The Atlanta Crackers of the Southern Association secured Christenbury’s rights from Cincinnati for the 1919 season. He hit .327 (17-for-52) over the first two weeks for the Crackers.18 In early May, the Memphis Chicks, also of the SA, purchased Christenbury in return for relinquishing their claim on outfielder Fred Bratschi.19 “Lou” (Lloyd’s common nickname by then) stayed hot the entire year, ending up at .324, good for second in the league behind Larry Gilbert of New Orleans. Christenbury led the league with 174 hits (albeit with no home runs) and 90 runs scored.20

Rumors swirled that Christenbury (playing outfield in addition to short) and “Dixie” Carroll would be purchased by the New York Yankees.21 Instead, they were sold by Memphis to the Boston Braves in early September 1919 for seven future recruits.22 The pair joined a batch of Boston recruits that included infielder Hod Ford and outfielders Everett “Dizzy” Nutter and John L. Sullivan.23

Christenbury made his major-league debut for the Braves on September 20, 1919, against the Chicago Cubs, going 2-for-5 while batting cleanup in a 4-3 loss. He went 9-for-31 (.290) over the final week of the season starting in left field for manager George Stallings’ sixth-place club.

Christenbury returned to Boston for the 1920 season but made only one plate appearance over the first nine games. Finally, on May 1, against the Brooklyn Robins, Christenbury was sent up in the bottom of the ninth inning to pinch-hit for catcher Mickey O’Neil. Facing Robins starter Leon Cadore, Christenbury “laid down an intended sacrifice bunt that was converted into a safe hit when it was not fielded (by Cadore) in time.”24 The Boston Globe added that Christenbury “beat out his bunt along the first-base line, Cadore hitting him in the back with the ball just as he stepped on the bag.”25 The hit advanced Rabbit Maranville to second base with no outs. Unfortunately for Boston, after a sacrifice bunt and intentional walk, a double play ended the threat, sending the game into extra innings…17 scoreless frames, as it turned out. Cadore and the Braves’ Joe Oeschger each pitched all 26 innings in the famous 1-1 tie.

Christenbury hit only .208 in 65 games that season in a utility role for the seventh-place Braves. He served as a pinch-hitter 29 times and pinch-ran 10 times.

The year 1921 was a different story altogether for Christenbury. Training camp reports were that he had the inside track to replace the departed Maranville at shortstop. However, one of the players received in the Maranville trade to the Pittsburgh Pirates was Walter Barbare, who won the battle. Still, Christenbury hit .352 (44-for-125) in 62 games for the Braves and new manager Fred Mitchell, ending up tied for third in average in the National League among players accumulating over 100 at-bats, behind only Rogers Hornsby of St. Louis at .397 and Babe Twombly of Chicago at .377. On July 24, after Boston’s second baseman Hod Ford broke his nose, Christenbury, the main utility player for the Braves, replaced him and hit his first major-league homer, off Brooklyn’s Cadore. On August 11, Christenbury’s pinch-hit single in the bottom of the 10th inning won the game for Boston against Philadelphia.26 He carried an average over .400 in part-time duty into September. His roommate during most of his time with the Braves was fellow Southerner Walton Cruise, who finished fourth in the circuit at .346 among league qualifiers. The Braves finished fourth that season.

Christenbury slipped in 1922 to a .250 mark, again in part-time duty for the Braves, who finished in last place. He played mostly in the outfield, although he was 9-for-27 as a pinch-hitter. He pinch-hit 84 times over his three full seasons with the Braves. In October, Lloyd married Alabama native Ruby Eugenia Barnard in Pratt City, North Carolina.

By December, Christenbury was sold by Boston to the Indianapolis Indians.27 He never returned to the major leagues, winding up with a .273 average over 205 games. He hit .308 in 154 games for Indianapolis in 1923, playing mostly right field and third base. The next year he posted a .329 average in 156 games, though that mark barely cracked the top 25 in a hitting-happy league. After the season, Lloyd and Ruby traveled to Cuba with an American Association all-star squad that included teammates Ernie Krueger and Jesse Petty. They had a local guide in Cuban native Merito Acosta of the Louisville Colonels.28

Christenbury held out until March 1925 before reporting to Indians camp in Plant City, Florida. For the year, he hit only .254 before being sold by Indianapolis to the Nashville Volunteers of the Class A Southern Association in late July to replace Ike Eichrodt at shortstop. After healing a sprained ankle, Lloyd tallied a .271 average before being returned by Nashville manager Jimmy Hamilton to Indianapolis in early September.

Indianapolis sold Christenbury to the Buffalo Bisons of the Class AA International League in February 1926. He’d been recommended by former Indianapolis skipper Jack Hendricks, by then the Cincinnati manager, to Buffalo manager Bill Clymer. He was returned once again to Indianapolis in late March. The Indians found yet another taker for Christenbury, the Decatur (Illinois) Commodores of the Three-I League, in early April. However, he refused to report for manager Hal Irelan at Class B ball’s lower salary and retired instead.29

Christenbury attempted a comeback with Indianapolis in 1927, but after just one pinch-running appearance on Opening Day, he was granted an unconditional release. He played in two games with the Little Rock Travelers of the Southern Association in July but was released within the week.

The Christenbury family had moved to Birmingham in 1926. Lloyd worked with the McKelvey-Coats Furniture Company in town. He and Ruby had a son named James Richard (“Dickie”) in 1932; daughter Shirley was born a year later.

Lloyd R. Christenbury died on December 13, 1944, in Birmingham, Alabama from a heart attack at the age of 51. He was buried at Forest Hill Cemetery in Birmingham.30 He was survived by his wife, children, and eight sisters. Years later, as a widow, Ruby reminisced that the ballplayer lifestyle “opened up a world to me that I might never have seen if it hadn’t been for [Lloyd].”31



This biography was reviewed by Bill Lamb and Rory Costello and fact-checked by Paul Proia.

Photo credit: Trading Card DB.



In addition to the sources shown in the Notes, the author used Baseball-Reference.com, StatsCrew.com, and MyHeritage.com.



1 “Annual Thanksgiving Win by Davidson,” Charlotte (North Carolina) News, November 28, 1913: 13.

2 “Davidson Closes Season by Defeating South Carolina,” Charlotte News, May 8, 1914: 10.

3 “Morganton Holds Championship,” Morganton (North Carolina) News Herald, August 27, 1914: 3.

4 “Presbyterian,” Charlotte News, April 4, 1915: 15.

5 “Rejuvenated Hornets Won from the Bulls,” Charlotte News, May 7, 1915: 10.

6 “Notes,” Charlotte Observer, July 16, 1915: 3.

7 “Newnan 14, Rome 1,” Atlanta Constitution, May 17, 1916: 12.

8 “Christenberry (sic) Made Watkins Unhappy,” Anniston (Alabama) Star, July 16, 1916: 2.

9 “Shorts,” Anniston Star, March 25, 1917: 9.

10 “Shakeup on Columbia Team,” Tampa (Florida) Tribune, May 31, 1917: 7.

11 “Pennant for Comers Comes with Victory,” The State (Columbia, South Carolina), July 17, 1917: 1.

12 “Christenberry (sic) is Secured by Locals,” Chattanooga (Tennessee) News, July 16, 1917: 10; Christenberry (sic) Fast and Hard Hitter,” Chattanooga (Tennessee) Daily Times, July 15, 1917: 16.

13 “Official Averages of Southern Association are Given Out,” (Nashville) Tennessean, November 11, 1917: 24.

14 “Lookouts Lose on Errors,” Montgomery (Alabama) Advertiser, July 19, 1917: 11; “Locals Again Suffer Shutout,” Chattanooga News, July 20, 1917: 13; “Lookouts Lose Out in Eighth,” Chattanooga News, July 21, 1917: 8; “Barons Land on Recruit,” Montgomery Advertiser, July 22, 1917: 5.

15 “Birmingham Wins,” Courier-Journal, September 16, 1917: 32; Zipp Newman, “Welsh’s Muff is Responsible for Norwood’s Win,” Birmingham News, September 17, 1917: 10. Pratt City (Birmingham) beat Yingling 13-0 in the opening game of the series but lost a doubleheader on the second day.

16 “Locals Will Report Late,” Chattanooga Daily Times, January 1, 1918: 7.

17 “McLeanites Keep Place at the Top,” (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot, May 26, 1918: 12; “Value of Athletics to Men of Navy Cannot be Overestimated,” Portland (Maine) Evening Express & Advertiser, November 5, 1918: 10.

18 “Herndon and Street Lead,” Chattanooga (Daily) Times, May 11, 1919: 29.

19 “Memphis Gets Christenbury,” Columbia (South Carolina) Record, May 7, 1919: 12.

20 “Pelican and Chick Set Paces for Southern League Players,” Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee), September 9, 1919: 17. Baseball-Reference.com only shows Christenbury as playing with Memphis on the season.

21 Bob Pigue, “The Sporting Spotlight,” News Scimitar (Memphis, Tennessee), August 26, 1919: 11.

22 Bob Pigue, “George Moriarty, Otto Knabe, or Jack Miller Will Be at Helm of the Chicks Next Season,” News Scimitar, September 1, 1919: 13.

23 “Flock of Recruits to Report to Braves Soon,” Boston Globe, September 6, 1919: 5.

24 “26-Inning Tie Game Sets Baseball Record,” Standard Union (Brooklyn, New York), May 2, 1930: 1 (quote appears on page 8).

25 James C. O’Leary, “Braves-Dodgers in 26-Inning Tie,” Boston Globe, May 2, 1920: 1 (quote appears on page 17).

26 Burt Whitman, “Christenbury’s Long Single in Tenth Wins Game for Braves, 2 to 1,” Boston Herald, August 12, 1921: 9.

27 Eddie Ash, “Lloyd Christenbury Is Purchased from Boston Nationals by Indians,” Indianapolis Times, December 15, 1922: 15.

28 “Combs Sock Four Safeties,” Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), October 13, 1924: 7; “American Baseball Players Down in Cuba,” Times Signal (Zanesville, Ohio), December 14, 1924: 11.

29 “Will Not Join Commie Club,” Decatur Daily Review, April 5, 1926: 4.

30 “Former Hornet Player Passes,” Charlotte News, December 14, 1944: 4.

31 Ronald Weathers, “As of old, she looks to each baseball year,” Birmingham News, March 29, 1980: 22.

Full Name

Lloyd Reid Christenbury


October 19, 1893 at Mecklenburg County, NC (USA)


December 13, 1944 at Birmingham, AL (USA)

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