COLLEGE PARK — The University of Maryland has announced the creation of an annual award that will be given to a sports journalist or broadcaster who has made “significant contributions to racial and gender equality in sports.”
The Sam Lacy-Wendell Smith Award will be chosen by an eight-person panel and presented in conjunction with the Shirley Povich Symposium.
Lacy and Smith were prominent African-American journalists who are credited with pushing Major League Baseball owners to integrate and wrote extensively about Jackie Robinson’s career.
Lacy worked for the Washington Tribune, the Chicago Defender and the Baltimore Afro-American and was the first African-American member of the Baseball Writers of America Association. He won the Red Smith Award for sports journalism in 1998.
Smith covered the Negro Leagues for many African-American newspapers and boxing for the Chicago Tribune. He also worked in television and was a sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. He wrote about Robinson for the Pittsburgh Courier.
“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,” Povich Center director George Solomon said in a statement.
The committee making the selection includes Solomon, USA Today sports managing editor Mary Byrne and South Florida Sun Sentinel sports editor Greg Lee, who also is president of the National Association of Black Journalists, will select the winner.
The other panelists are Kevin Blackistone (visiting professor, Merrill College and commentator, ESPN’s “Around the Horn”), Garry Howard (editor, The Sporting News), Diana Huffman (Baltimore Sun, lecturer, Merrill College), and Rick “Doc” Walker (commentator, ESPN-980, Comcast SportsNet).