Sam Lacy was a sports editor and columnist for the Afro-American Newspapers.
In 1997, Sam was notified that he had been selected for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. It was a moment of pride for my Pop, and I have to admit my chest swelled a bit.
Up until this point, he and I had had several “arguments” over his greatest awards. He had a laundry list of achievements that he would choose according to how he felt at the moment. I, on the other hand, held out for his honor of having the 34th Street Post Office named after him. My argument cited the fact that a lot of people have been awarded plaques and trophies but very few had a building bearing their name.
The irony of this situation was found in the location. The 34th Street Post Office is located in a part of Baltimore called Hamden. For those of you who know Baltimore, you know that historically, Hamden was a community that wasn’t known for holding out the welcome mat for persons of color.
A limo met us at the airport in Cooperstown, and I started to feel like, “It don’t get any better than this.” About then I glanced out of the window to take in the scenery best described in the books by James Fennimore Cooper. I could imagine Hawkeye, Deerslayer and Chingachgook running through the woods chasing or being chased by Indians. It was then that I noticed that those woods were about 500 feet down and there was no guard rail. I had been here before. I just sat back and hoped that God was paying attention.
The trip to Cooperstown held out a double opportunity for me. The Annual Hall of Fame Golf Tournament is contested during the events leading up to the induction ceremonies, and I was to be a participant. With my Pop being one of the inductees and a little golf to boot, I was in hog heaven.
As luck would have it, I was a winner. I called home to tell my wife that I had won a set of golf clubs and a crystal jug like the one Se-ri Pak just awarded for winning the Women’s Open Championship. She replied, “Se-ri Pak won a check for $160,000, where’s the check?” Having had my balloon burst, I headed outside to puff on another cigarette. If you visit my home you will find this beautiful Waterford crystal jug filled with jelly beans.
The day of the ceremony arrived, and as Sam was seated on the stage with the other inductees, it was a proud moment for me. As he was called to the podium to make his acceptance speech, he tripped over a speaker and fell to his knees.
Don Newcombe (of Brooklyn Dodger Fame) followed Sam at the microphone to say a few words about his experiences and longtime friendship with Sam. Don opened his remarks by saying that he knew it was quite an honor to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but Sam made history by crawling into the Hall.
In May 2003, shortly before his 100th birthday, Pop passed the torch to me. His journey here was complete.