SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS—Very few African-Americans know who Sam Lacy is these days and to be honest I didn't know who he was until I started covering sports some 11 years ago. Yet over the years I have not only had a chance to get to know him through his many writings… SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS—Very few African-Americans know who Sam Lacy is these days and to be honest I didn't know who he was until I started covering sports some 11 years ago. Yet over the years I have not only had a chance to get to know him through his many writings with one of the oldest African American newspapers in the country but I have been afforded the opportunity to listen to many who have known the man for several years and I have come to one unquestionable revelation: Without Sam Lacy, black sports coverage would not be where it is today.
For 70 years Lacy wrote for the Afro-American newspapers that are based in Baltimore, MD. Over this man's brilliant career he has championed the causes for racial equality in sports like no other. It is said in one article that just ten years before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball, Lacy was interviewing the Washington Senators' owner Clark Griffith and Griffith told Lacy that "the time is not far off when colored players will take their places beside those of other races in the major leagues." Imagine the scoop that Lacy had and the enigmatic moment that transpired when that one sentence of a prophesy was revealed by the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Lacy's words have always been a beacon for this writer to use in the wake of racial injustice, player inabilities to grasp the realities of any situation and for the general enjoyment. While I have never met the man in person, I have definitely become a fan of his over the years simply because the prose he wrote has provided so many others the necessary ingredients for success in this profession. The way black athletes are covered today by black sports writers has a lot to do with the fact that Lacy wanted their stories to be told to the masses. Keep in mind that during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, black newspapers were the "newspapers" of the black community and whenever one had a chance to read an article from Lacy on the heroics of a Josh Gibson, the feats of a Jackie Robinson or the accomplishments of one Cassius Clay, the black community was akin to what was going on in 'their' world.
One of the most enlightening moments in any sportswriter's career is to be recognized and Lacy was recognized by one of the very organizations that he had fought back in the early days; major league baseball. In 1998, Mr. Lacy was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. There many writers in the hall but none with the integrity and humbleness of Sam Lacy and there may never be one coming any time soon. The black sportswriters have lost a crown jewel this past week. Sam Lacy was more than just an "American Hero" as some would put it; he was the institution that has allowed so many young black men and women to now become a mainstay in sports coverage. For those who knew him and for those who only have heard of his great works, this writer says "Thank you Mr. Lacy for being that beacon hope and strength through all the times at hand."
Gregory Moore is the Managing Editor of the San Antonio Informer, a weekly African American newspaper located in San Antonio, Texas. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org