This week we continue our celebration of Black History Month. Today is our tribute to great sportswriters who covered the Negro Leagues. Today we salute Sam Lacy, Chester L. Washington, W. Rollo Wilson, Ed Harris, A.S. “Doc” Young and Romeo Dougherty.
Sam Lacy became the first black member of the Baseball Writers Association of America in 1948.
In 1997, Lacy received the J. G. Taylor Spink Award for outstanding baseball writing from the BBWAA, which placed him in the writers' and broadcasters' wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
In 1936 Lacy began lobbying Senators owner Clark Griffith to consider adding star players from the Negro Leagues; in particular, those playing for the Homestead Grays team that leased Griffith Stadium for its home games. He finally gained a face-to-face meeting with Griffith on the subject in December 1937. Griffith listened but was not keen on the idea.
However, Lacy did not make any headway on the issue until Landis died in late 1944. Lacy began a dialogue with Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey, and Landis's successor in the commissioner's office, Happy Chandler lent his support to the effort. It ultimately led to Jackie Robinson signing with the Dodgers' minor league team, the Montreal Royals on October 23, 1945, which was Lacy's 42nd birthday.
Sam Lacy wrote his final column for the paper just days before his death at age 99 in 2003, and filed the piece from his hospital bed.
Chester L. Washington wrote for the Pittsburgh Courier and announced that the paper was launching “A symposium of opinion, coming from outstanding figures in baseball circles,” designed to demonstrate a broad coalition of support for integration.
He was also well known for being a friend and biographer of Joe Louis – My Life Story. (Written with the editorial aid of Chester L. Washington and Haskell Cohen)
W. Rollo Wilson wrote for the Pittsburgh Courier and Philadelphia Tribune
Ed Harris was a writer on the Negro Leagues and strong critic of the Leagues business and marketing practices
A.S. “Doc” Young an American sports journalist and author. He was also one of the first African American publicists working in Hollywood. The first African American to have a weekly sports column in Jet Magazine, Ebony Magazine and the Chicago Defender.
Young worked as a unit publicist on the films The Defiant Ones and Kings Go Forth. Additionally, Young is the author of several books, including Negro Firsts in Sports (Johnson Publishing Company, 1963)
Romeo Dougherty was a writer for NY Amsterdam, Commenting on that white newspaper’s praise for this old black player, Romeo Dougherty of the Amsterdam News recollected how many times back in the early 1910s the old Lincoln Giants, anchored at shortstop by the then-young Pop, had beaten the best white teams. “Big League players used to come to Olympic Field between 136th and 137th to learn the finer points of the game from John Henry and his associates on the old Lincolns,” the black writer recollected.