Beyond the Shadow of the Senators
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Sam Lacy is a sports columnist for the Baltimore Afro-American. He grew up in Washington only a few blocks from Griffith Stadium. As a youngster, he shagged fly balls for Washington Senator players and ran errands for them. Lacy was a semi-pro pitcher who dreamed of playing in the Negro Leagues and played against many of the great black players of the 1920s and 1930s. Not good enough to play in the Negro Leagues, Lacy became a sportswriter with the local black newspaper, the Washington Tribune. In 1933, he began a 14-year crusade to integrate major league baseball. In December 1937, Lacy landed a groundbreaking interview with Senators owner Clark Griffith, who declared that the "time was not far off" when black players would play in the major leagues. Lacy, along with Pittsburgh Courier sports columnist Wendell Smith, made Griffith's Senators one of the focal points of their integration efforts. Ultimately, however, Lacy and Smith had more success in Brooklyn, where they became Jackie Robinson's friends and confidantes. Lacy, who is in his late 90s, still lives in Northeast Washington.

Photo Credits: Josh Gibson - Art Carter Papers, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University. Sam Lacy - National Baseball Hall of Fame Library.