13. Sam Lacy
A man of great courage, long-time Baltimore Afro-American newspaper sports columnist Sam Lacy wrote his first story in 1926 at the age of 23 and fought from the beginning for equality and inclusion for men of color in Major League Baseball. Lacy began to lobby Washington Senators owner Clark Griffith in 1936 to allow blacks into the big leagues and spent the 1940s lobbying commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis on the topic of desegregating baseball. It was Lacy who sought the ear of Branch Rickey and then Happy Chandler to have Jackie Robinson become the first African American in Major League Baseball.
He was routinely denied press access because of the color of his skin and like the men who played the games, was forced to eat and stay in hotels that were designed for blacks in the racially-divided Deep South.
Lacy was a pioneer on many issues of race and sports in the 20th century, arguing his case throughout the century as he lived to be 99 years old. And he was still in the Camden Yards press box quite often during the 1990s and covered the Orioles virtually every day during his 59 years at the newspaper.
He fought for nearly a quarter of a century for the dream of seeing the big leagues integrated. He lived to see that and lived another half century documenting it. He made an enormous contribution to awareness in a realm that the white media rarely if ever dared to tread in that era.
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