Sam LaceySAM LACY
Died: May 8, 2003
Sam Lacy began his career as a sports writer with the Washington Tribune, but his experiences and understanding of baseball and its inequity began much earlier. He is recognized as a pioneer in baseball journalism in becoming one of the first African-American members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, was the 1997 recipient of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award.
Lacy's career in print journalism began in the 1920s, working as a sportswriter at the Washington Tribune under the tutelage of editor Lewis Lautier. He was both managing editor and sports editor of the paper from 1934-39, before moving to Chicago to become assistant national editor for the Chicago Defender from 1940-43.
He then returned to his roots in Baltimore to become a columnist and sports editor for the weekly Baltimore Afro-American, where he remained for well over half a century. He authored the widely popular column "A to Z" for many years. In 1998, he was inducted into the "writers' wing" of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
He is credited with playing a vital role in facilitating the integration of Major League Baseball. Along with the late Wendell Smith, a writer with The Pittsburgh Courier, Mr. Lacy persuaded Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey to sign Jackie Robinson to a contract with the club. Robinson played in his first game with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947, thus breaking the color barrier of Major League Baseball.
On September 30, 2002, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley joined the Maryland Press Club (MPC) and a diverse group of guests at a luncheon as MPC presented Mr. Lacy with its Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism. The Mayor served as guest speaker at the mid-day affair, held in The Designated Hitters' Lounge in the Orioles Warehouse at Camden Yards.
"To describe Mr. Lacy simply as a Hall of Fame Sportswriter, in my opinion, is narrow minded and plain inaccurate," said Mayor O'Malley. "Sam Lacy is a teacher, historian and social scientist. And on top of that, he is a true American hero.”