Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Atlanta TV Station Profiles Bill Lucas during Black History Month; was first African-American general manager in baseball



WXIA-TV ATLANTA | Reported By: Clarence Reynolds The phrase “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” carries special meaning in this February’s celebration of black history for one notable figure who went from Negro League baseball player to calling the shots in the front office of Major League Baseball.

11Alive’s Black History Spotlight shines on Bill Lucas.

In the business, surrounded by well-known people with giant footsteps, Lucas left his own mark by managing to keep his signature sense of humor. Called “Bill” by his friends, Lucas made history when he was named director of player personnel for the Atlanta Braves in 1976.

“My father was the first African-American general manager in baseball and it was an amazing feat at the time,” said his daughter, Wonya Lucas, who survives him. “Little did he know it’d be many years before there’d be another African-American general manager.

“And, I remember when Ted Turner bought and, sort of, brought in the new team, and I think that my father played a very key role in helping both Ted and many members of his organization understand those.”

It was a great earned respect from the entire Negro League that led Lucas to do something that would change the life of one of the league’s best players.

“My father was very instrumental in helping [Leroy] Satchel Page secure a pension. But, they also shared the past of the effects of segregation and the inability to truly compete in a world where all was fair,” Wonya said.

“And, I think my father had respect for the Negro League players because of everything they had gone through. And, really because they set the stage for people like him…and for other great players in the future.”

Armed with a wicked sense of humor, Lucas also left a legacy of caring for the community.

Wonya said, “The one thing I remember so clearly is how many people, of any person they would talk about, how engaged my father was with people, no matter where they were in the organization. If you were the groundskeeper, my father knew you, he knew the family, he knew your life, he was interested in you.”

Atlanta paid one last tribute to Lucas by naming a stretch of road in his honor. [click here for full story]

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