Home | Calendar | Contact Us | Site Map | Member Login | Search |

Proudly Serving Maryland, Delaware and D.C. Newspapers Since 1908

Merrill College to honor journalists who promote equality with annual award

Named for Baltimore Afro-American writer Sam Lacy, Wendell Smith
By T.C. Cameron

The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism announced the creation of the Sam Lacy-Wendell Smith Award last week. Smith was a reporter, columnist and television news anchor, primarily in Chicago and Pittsburgh.

The award is to be presented annually in conjunction with the Shirley Povich Symposium and will go to a sports journalist or broadcaster who has made significant contributions to racial and gender equality in sports.

“All someone has to do to see how important Pittsburgh Courier sports writer Wendell Smith was to Jackie Robinson integrating Major League Baseball is to see the movie, ‘42,’” said Povich Center Director George Solomon. “And Baltimore Afro American columnist Sam Lacy was just as important. Both men worked tirelessly over the years–writing, lobbying and cajoling MLB’s owners, many of them resistant, into trying to see the importance of integration to the future of not only the sport of baseball but to the country.”

Sam Lacy was a reporter, columnist, editor and TV/Radio host who worked for the Washington Tribune, the Chicago Defender and the Baltimore Afro-American. He wrote about baseball’s need for integration and Jackie Robinson’s ascent to the Major Leagues. He was the first African-American member of the Baseball Writers of America Association and won the Red Smith Award for contributions to sports journalism in 1998. He was inducted into the MDDC hall in 1994. Lacy was 99 when died in 2003.

Wendell Smith covered the Negro leagues for many African-American newspapers and later covered boxing for the Chicago Tribune. He was also a TV sports anchorman in Chicago and a sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. While writing for the Pittsburgh Courier, Smith was credited with encouraging Branch Rickey to give Robinson an opportunity to play in the major leagues. Smith was just 58 years old when he died in 1972.

Povich is perhaps the most beloved and iconic sports writer ever at The Washington Post, where he worked for 75 years. He is the namesake of the Georgetown University baseball field and is a member of the MDDC Newspaper Hall of Fame, inducted in 2008.

The award winner will be chosen by a committee comprised of Kevin Blackistone (ESPN, Merrill College professor), Mary Byrne (USA Today), Margaret Engel (Alicia Patterson Journalism Foundation), Garry Howard (The Sporting News), Diana Huffman (Baltimore Sun, Merrill College lecturer), Greg Lee (Fort Lauderdale Sentinel, president of the National Association of Black Journalists), Rick “Doc” Walker (ESPN-980 and Comcast SportsNet), and Solomon.

Need to pay an invoice?

Pay your MDDC invoice here
Advanced Search

Subscribe to our Friday Planner

Facebook button   Twitter button   LinkedIn button   RSS button