By Earl Heath, Contributing Sports Writer
You would see him anywhere and everywhere there was a sporting event. Dodgers, Lakers, Clippers, Rams, or even high school contests. Brad Pye Jr. was a fixture in Southern California sports and in the communities. He recently passed away at the age of 89 surrounded by family.
His life was filled not only with sports but leadership, the drive to assist his fellow man, kindness and humility. A native of Plain Dealer, Louisiana he attended Thomas Jefferson High in South Los Angeles.
He later became sports director of multiple stations including KACE, KJLH, and KDAY for more than 20 years. He was the first Black sportscaster in Los Angeles on KGFK radio with his patented “Switch Reels,“ his way of turning a page on a story while on the air.
He used his platform to promote the Black athletes, coaches and administrators. He paved the way for minorities to be credentialed to cover events at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Rose Bowl and The College Football Play-off in recent years.
He was a writer for several publications including the Los Angeles Sentinel, The Watts Times, L.A. 900, the Inland Valley News, The California Crusader News and Compton Bulletin.
He was a wiz with the pen, a great storyteller whether it was about the integration of the NFL or the Black quarterback (Keenan Reynolds) from the U.S. Naval Academy Pye would bring out little facts in his story.
“Switch Reels” – Pye worked as a deputy under L.A. County Supervisors Kenny Hahn and Yvonne Brathwaite Burke. He created an Aquatics Foundation for Metropolitan Los Angeles for young people who loved swimming that ran year-round. He was the first Black President of the L.A. Department of Rec and Parks Board of Commissioners. He created a path for minorities to advance to higher level positions within the Department. That help lead to Algin Sutton becoming the first African American to become Assistant City Manager and Jackie Tatum to become the first Black City General Manager for the City of Los Angeles.
Pye and Kenny Hahn were tremendous supporters of High School sports. When a team won a title they were invited to have lunch with Supervisor Hahn. One of Brads favorite invite was when Morningside High won the basketball championship Hall of Famer Lisa Leslie and her teammates joined Hahn and Pye for lunch. That year Leslie became the first female player to score 110 points in a game.
”Switch Reels”-In 1991 he ran for City Council and one fundraiser on Central Ave Muhammad Ali showed up to support. Ali was just one of many professionals who was close to Pye away from playing field. MLB umpire Emmett Ashford was another. Ashford was the first Black umpire in the major league baseball. His picture along with Jesse Owens, Martin Luther King are some of many that deck the halls of Pye’s home.
“Switch Reels”-In July of 2015 the City of Los Angeles named the gymnasium at St. Andrews Rec Center the Brad Pye Jr Athletic Complex. It was a drive engineered by former LAPD Police Chief and City Councilman Bernard Parks. “Brad put ten years of his life, volunteered his time into the City of Los Angeles while he still had another job with the County,” said Parks. “He made sure that our parks were well maintained, but what he did most of all he made sure there was representation of minorities at the higher ranks of Rec and Parks.”
“Switch Reels”- In 1961 he was joined the California Angels public relations staff making him the first Black to hold such a position in Major League Baseball. He was also the first Black administrator in the American Football League serving under then Commissioner Al Davis. They were really good friends when Pye retired after 24 years of working for L.A. County Al Davis attended his retirement party at the Proud Bird restaurant and presented him with a framed Raider Jersey #24. The jersey still hangs on the wall in his home.
Pye was a member of the Brookins AME Church and volunteered for several church auxiliaries while also serving on the Board of Trustees member. In 2013 he was named “Man of The Year.”
He was honored by Dick Simpson and HBCU football teams on the Harvey Hyde Show. Hyde is the host of ‘Trojan Talk’ a weekly review of USC sports.
“He received a lot of awards,” said daughter Jenice “Nisie” Pye. “He was loved by a lot of people and he had a big heart.”
“Switch Reels”- Pye had spent more than 40 years with his wife Eunice who along with their son Brad Pye III preceded him in death. He is survived by daughters Janice Pye, Jill Pye, Jill White, Jan Pye and Sharee Hollis, three grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Pye gave so much to so many. “Switch Reels-This reel has signed out” RIP to the great Brad Pye Jr.