Sam Lacy was a sports editor and columnist for the Afro-American Newspapers.
I am sure most of you are guilty of this, and will get a chuckle when I confess that it is happening to me. I was kicking back in my favorite chair with one eye on the TV and the other in my brain searching for my column material. Sam’s story kept popping up, and I was trying to dismiss it with the excuse of poor concentration. This is when the chuckle erupted. I had the audacity to close “He Made a Difference,” thinking I had covered the life story of Sam Lacy. When Sam left us to take a seat at the Sports Desk in the sky, he was a half dozen heartbeats from turning 100 years old. The question rises, “Why did I think I could share his story in a few paragraphs?”
I think a good place to pick up his story is with a little humor. My grandmother had a pit bull named Blitz. The knock on pit bulls is ridiculous. The mean ones are taught to be mean, or you have to tick them off. Blitz was as gentle as a lamb unless you got it twisted. The mailman would take a short cut through the alley, and as he passed the yard he would drag a magazine along the fence to mess with Blitz. I think Blitz would go to sleep at night trying to figure a way to get to that mailman.
Coming to visit his mom, Sam took the alley short cut. Sam was wearing a blue suit, and this alerted Blitz that the enemy was in the neighborhood. Sam entered the house from the front and proceeded to the back porch to give his mom a hug. When he stepped onto the porch, Blitz lit him up. Now Sam had a reputation for being a fashion plate, but when Blitz finished with that blue suit, Sam looked like the neighborhood bum.
I had a decent track career, and sometimes I would be questioned about how I got my speed. I would always reply that I was faster than light. This was a little slanted, but absolutely true. We lived in the lower third of the block. There was a street light in front of my house, and Sam’s rule was, “Be in the house when the street light comes on.” There was another street light in the upper third of the block, and I would play until that light came on. The lights were in tandem, and when the light came on up the block, I would sprint for home. Making the full speed turn into my house would turn into quite an adventure on some days, but Sam would just hand me the iodine for my skinned knee and turn his back so I couldn’t see the grin on his face. Some would say he was hard but fair, but that was part of what made Sam special.