by Hal Lamar
Remembering Trailblazer Bill Lucas
Thirty years ago this year, the world of major league baseball lost a true trailblazer.
Black people lost a hero.
In 1976, William “Bill”Lucas (Florida A&M) became General Manager of Atlanta Braves. He became the highest ranking black executive in the so called great American pastime.
For most people, the distinction stops there. But you had to know Brother Lucas to get a real sense of the man. “Luke” as many called him, could walk with kings but never lose the common touch. In the mid 70s when I covered the Braves for the historic Atlanta Daily World, Bill would often join me, the late radio sportscaster and Negro League great Othello “Chico”Renfroe (Clark-AU), sportswriter William Herty Killian (Morehouse) and radio sports legend Joe Walker (FAMU) in an area of the Braves press box we all affectionately called “the ghetto.” He would spend time with us watching the game and teasing and joking with us. Bill got along well with all members of the so called fourth estate but was especially sensitive to the special needs of us in the black press. I do know he often went out of his way to make sure we were included in all Braves and Braves-related activities. It saddened us to no end when God called him home in May of 1979. His homegoing was held here in Atlanta at St Paul of the Cross Catholic Church. The church was overflowing with those paying tribute to Bill by their presence. I was among those attending the “celebration” of Bill’s life. On Sunday, January 4 while dining in southwest Atlanta, I ran into Bill’s sainted widow Rubye. We talked briefly about Bill and the 30 year anniversary and I promised her I would make sure the world never forgets that William Lucas passed our way…
My last column about a playoff bracket for HBCUs generated lots of response from readers. It was mixed with some thinking it a good idea while others thought it “silly.” I appreciated their response to my assertion that an HBCU playoff was an idea whose time had come. It proved to me that such subjects are on the minds of Onnidan’s readers and shows perhaps to other races that black people are hardly monolithic……..(I still say it’s an idea who’s time has come.)
William Head’s Nashville radio show “Coaches Corner” is building itself to be one of the hottest in media. Head, Athletic Director at Fisk University, has had stimulating guests on the program including figures who have long since been forgotten. He has also had the creator of this web site as a guest and even invited yours truly to grace his one hour Saturday morning show (9-10am, WFSK-FM).
SIAC HOOPS: Claflin College is picking up where it left off from last year. The Panther men are kicking behind. As of January 18, they are already 13-1. Last year, as a provisional member, the Panthers lost no more than two games .The only game they've surrendered this season was a surprising 58-56 loss to Miles on December 30. No doubt part of that victory can be credited to their senior guard Flawaan Flaggs. He is the SIAC’s leading scorer and sixth in the country with an average 23.3 buckets a game.
Morehouse College, a pre season pick to finish third in the conference, is having a hard time finding the winners circle of late. The Marooners have lost six straight and it’s bothering head coach Grady Brewer who has to watch his team night after night suffer lack of production from the free throw line and, to be honest, not getting 100% from the whole team.
I say whole team because there are exceptions. Jerry Felder is one of them. The 6-7 senior is the SIAC leader in field goals and leading the country by finding the hoop 80.9% of the time he tosses it up. Kenny Boyd is also a national rebound leader, averaging 10.8 per game.
…The big SIAC hoop news, however, is the Lady Panthers of Clark-AU. Coach Vanessa Moore (Tuskegee),in her seventh year has taken the Panthers to a 13-1 mark (as of January 19) and boasts the country’s eighth best scorer in Shantrell Moss. The senior Floridian is bucketing 24 per game. She’s getting help, too. Against Miles College on January 12, Sheaywond Williams,a native of the Virgin Islands, bucketed 19 points but swiped an amazing 26 boards. CAU fans are anxiously awaiting January 29 when number one CAU ( as of January 19) face number two Fort Valley at CAU’s L.S. Epps gym…….
INSIDE EXTRAS: Is Savannah State on the verge of sanctions from the NCAA? That’s the scuttlebutt and efforts to get an explanation from Tiger officialdom have so far been futile….
Speaking of scuttlebutt, whispers are getting louder that some SIAC officials haven’t been paid for certain games despite the conference schools already reportedly ponying up the funds to get it done. What’s up?.......And speaking of officiating, I maintain that basketball is the toughest sport to police. I’m not suggesting the players are violent. But basketball is fast paced and the players are getting faster. A referee has to be sharp as a tack and keep the taunts of the fans and rants of the coaches out of their ears while keeping track of floor action and maintaining control of the game. Considering all that and the often tight fit that the stripes have to work in, I think the officials do a pretty damn good job…
I sure would like to know how many names were on the short list of candidates for the job of SIAC Commissioner……
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