BiographyBill Lucas spent close to 20 years with the Braves organization and became the highest-ranking African American in baseball history at age 40 on Sept. 19, 1976, after being named general manager by new owner, Ted Turner. Even though his job title was vice president of player personnel, he performed all of the general manager duties, as the Braves didn't have the title of "general manager" at the time. Lucas passed away at the age of 43 in May 1979, after two full seasons as general manager.
Lucas began his career with the Braves as a player in the farm system where he spent six seasons. After a knee injury ended his playing career in 1964, Lucas became public relations director for the Minor League Atlanta Crackers in 1965. In 1966, he was part of the Braves' transition team for their move from Milwaukee to Atlanta. In 1967 he was named assistant farm director and was eventually promoted to farm director before landing his final position as the Braves GM in 1976.
After spending six years playing in the organization's farm system, Lucas initially turned down the Braves' offer to join their front office. But after getting assurances that he wasn't being viewed as a token hire, he rejoined the organization in 1965 and worked in the sales and promotions department.
One of his first achievements came about while hiring employees for new Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. He saw to it that he hired one African-American stadium worker for every white worker. By doing this, he forced both races to communicate and work together toward a common goal.
After completing his tasks in the sales and promotions department, Lucas was given a job in the public relations department in 1966 and was then promoted to assistant farm director in 1967.
Lucas became the farm director in 1972, and over the next five years, he ran the team's Minor League operation. During that time, he oversaw the development of many young players, like Ralph Garr and Dale Murphy.
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