Historic Baseball

Historic Baseball

Bringing Baseball History To Center Field

Sam LacyDied: Nov. 4, 1950 in St. Paul, NebraskaPioneering Sports Editor & ColumnistSam Lacy, a sports editor and columnist who was a champion of the inclusion of black athletes in major league baseball, died on May 8, 2003 at the age of 99. He had been battling an esophageal disorder.Lacy, who had worked for Afro-American minority newspapers, based in Baltimore, since 1943, had been behind the push for baseball integration since he started calling for it in sports columns in the 1930s.”All of baseball mourns the passing of Sam Lacy,” said Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, in a statement. “Sam was as a highly respected journalist for more than 60 years, but his enduring legacy will be the impact he had as one of the most important pioneers for civil rights in the past century.Lacy was a 1997 recipient of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award from Baseball’s Hall of Fame.”One of the first African-American members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, a large portion of Sam’s early work was dedicated to crusading against racism and segregation in our country,” Selig wrote. “Sam’s integrity and passion for his work will be sorely missed.”In 1943, he pushed, with success, for baseball to set up an integration committee. However, the committee never held a meeting and Lacy approached Branch Rickey, the owner of the Dodgers. Rickey signed Jackie Robinson in 1945 to a minor league contract with the Montreal Royals and in 1947 Robinson integrated the game.Lacy covered Robinson while he played in Montreal and during his first year in the majors with the Dodgers.He was a graduate of Howard University and worked as a radio sports commentator following his graduation.”I played semipro ball, and I realized that some of these (black) ballplayers I played against were just as good as some of those (white) players that I had seen coming into Griffith Stadium,” Lacy said, in a 1997 interview in The Washington Post. “And I couldn’t understand why there was this barrier.”Lacy wrote his column up until his death. According to a story in the Washington Post, Lacy wrote his final column in the hospital and gave it to his son to deliver to the Afro-American offices.Sources: Washington Post obituary, MLB statement, Baseball Hall of Fame