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 Wendell Smith, Fay Young, Joe Bostic and Dan Burley.
Wendell Smith was a sportswriter for the Pittsburgh Courier and is often credited with recommending Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers and Branch Rickey who had let it be known that they were searching for a player with strong character to successfully execute the integration of baseball.
The Courier offered to pay for Smith to travel with Robinson, who had to stay in separate hotels from his teammates due to segregation policies prevalent at the time. Smith traveled with Robinson in the minors in 1946 and with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947
In 1993, Smith was a posthumous recipient of the J. G. Taylor Spink Award for excellence in journalism. In 1994 Smith was inducted into The Baseball Hall of Fame. His widow Wyonella Smith donated his papers to the Hall of Fame's archives in 1996, providing invaluable research material on the subject of baseball's integration.
When Jackie Robinson died on October of 1972, Wendell Smith wrote the obituary before succumbing to pancreatic cancer a month later.
Fay Young was considered the "dean" of black sportswriters, Fay Young wrote about the African American influence on American sport. He supported Jack Johnson as he tried to return to boxing after serving his prison sentence, and was actively involved in promoting the inclusion of African Americans into professional sport during the early years of the twentieth century; he was also a staunch and unwavering supporter of black collegiate sports, as well as encouraging the involvement of African Americans in such sports as tennis, golf, and auto racing.
Young helped organize the Negro National League in 1920, and served as statistician until the league disbanded in 1933. He was also a former secretary of the Negro American League.
Joe Bostic was the sports editor of The Amsterdam News, and the first black admitted to the Boxing Writers and Track Writers associations. After his graduation in 1932 from Morgan College (now Morgan State University), he became the first black announcer at WCBM in Baltimore.
Two years before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, Bostic escorted two players from the Negro leagues to the Dodger spring training camp at Bear Mountain and demanded tryouts for them. http://nyti.ms/2smseXL
Bostic would go on to become the first Black American radio announcer.
Dan Burley was an American pianist and Journalist for the Amsterdam News, New York American News, Jet Magazine and Ebony Magazine.
Burley also appeared in five films, as well as performed with Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Milton Hinton, Lionel Hampton, Leonard Feather, Fats Waller, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong wrote music for Lionel Hampton and Cab Calloway.
By 1929 Burley was the sports editor for the Daily Defender with a featured column syndicated throughout the country. He also wrote for the Chicago Bee, which was owned by S.B. Fuller who also owned the Pittsburgh Courier, in which Burley had a syndicated column, and who co-owned The New York Age with Burley after he moved to New York.