GEORGE AND POSY LOMBARD

Rosamond (Posy) Lombard was a child of privilege.

White privilege.

She was the daughter and one of seven children of longtime — 41 years — Harvard Business School Senior Associate Dean and Professor of Human Relations, George Francis Fabian Lombard and Mary Esther (Jackson).

One distant relative was the governor of Iowa.

Another relative sailed to America on the Mayflower.

A white woman from Massachusetts, she was a civil rights activist who dedicated her life to fighting racism.

As a college student in the 1960s, she traveled to the Jim Crow South to actively take part in civil rights protests.

She was arrested multiple times and her FBI dossier was 313 pages long.

No surprise; she was monitored by the FBI over parts of nine years.

The KKK tried to thwart her from demonstrating in Mississippi in 1965 (page 96); she was suspected of abetting an accused terrorist in 1969 (page 224); and in April 1974, right around the time that Hank Aaron was breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record, the FBI was still gathering intel on Posy Lombard’s various political affiliations in Atlanta (page 219).

Longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover believed subject Lombard warranted a letter to the Secret Service chronicling her dealings and calling attention to, if not spotlighting, her “conduct or statements indicating a propensity for violence and antipathy toward good order and government” (page 238).

Her phone was wiretapped in Birmingham and in Atlanta.

The FBI tracked her every move at home and abroad, including visits to Cuba, Bulgaria and Liberia.

The bureau collected its last report on her in 1975.

One excerpt from her comprehensive dossier (page 269) sheds light on her worldview:

“Source described Posey (sic) as a person who believed that the white persons (sic) place in the civil rights movement is to work against racism in white communities and indicated she was a fulltime organizer in the white community of Atlanta, Georgia.”

History has been known to render a verdict on its own schedule, but clearly Posy Lombard was a woman light years, eons ahead of her time.

She worked tirelessly within the movement, marched with the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. whom she knew personally, and became friends with leaders of the cause, including the late Rep. John Lewis.

She raised three biracial children on her own in a rough part of Southeast Atlanta.

When Posy Lombard was a senior at Smith College, a prestigious all-women’s institution in Northampton, Massachusetts, she heard her calling and left for Alabama to join the front lines of the civil rights movement.

When she and her college friends were driving to the South to protest, they told the officers who pulled them over that they were going on spring break; the Black passengers in the car lay hidden in back.

She was arrested in Montgomery and spent a week in jail.

She attended a speech by Dr. King in Montgomery and if she wasn’t hooked before, she certainly was then and thereafter.

Following her graduation in 1964, she returned to the South to redouble her efforts, this time in Mississippi.

She was arrested and jailed again.

She fearlessly confronted armed members of the Ku Klux Klan who tried to intimidate her.

Posy Lombard may have grown up with a silver spoon, but she wasn’t one to be intimidated or threatened.

And when she headed south, she willingly turned her back on this birthright.

Thirty-five years ago in 1985, Posy Lombard died in a car accident.

Her father was at the wheel; he survived.

She was 41 years old.

Her middle child, George was 10.

And he had no mother.

Today George Lombard is the 45-year-old first base coach of the Los Angeles Dodgers, #92 in your program.

He was a standout multi-sport athlete at the Lovett School in Atlanta who was in great demand as a football player, recognized as an All-American high school running back by several publications including Parade and USA Today, and he committed to play college football at the University of Georgia.

But his true love was baseball.

His hometown Braves drafted him in 1994; as a 2nd round selection, he signed a deal worth $425,000 and was on his way.

An outfielder by trade known primarily for his baserunning and defense, Lombard debuted with the Braves on September 4, 1998 and bounced around in the bigs to the Tigers (2002) and the Devil Rays (2003) before making his final major league appearance with the Washington Nationals on October 1, 2006.

Apart from stealing 23 bases in 25 attempts, his MLB career numbers were nothing to crow about — .220 BA; 8 HRs; and 21 RBI — but his personality, affability, intelligence, demeanor, attention to the finer points of the game and energy level certainly drew raves.

Perhaps his most notable moment as a player came in March 2008 when he joined a split squad Dodgers team that traveled to China to play the inaugural major league exhibition games staged there, known as the MLB China Series.

In the process, Lombard made history, becoming the first American ballplayer to hit a home run in “Zhong-guo” or the Middle Kingdom.

His playing career grinding to a halt, he dedicated himself to coaching, feeding his desire to stay in the game and impart his knowledge.

Really what he wanted to do was to help others.

Sound familiar?

He spent 2010 as the hitting coach of the Lowell Spinners, Short-Season A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox; managed the Rookie-level Gulf Coast Red Sox in 2011–2012; and in 2012 he was promoted by the Red Sox to roving outfield and baserunning coordinator throughout the team’s minor league farm system.

A short stint with the Braves in September 2015 in the same role, also serving as overall minor league field coordinator in the Atlanta system, led to his current position with the Dodgers, where he has been since December 17, 2015.

Highly regarded, Lombard’s name has been bandied about with respect to filling one of the three current MLB managerial vacancies, all found in the American League.

The jobs with the Red Sox and White Sox are open and the interim tag bestowed upon the Detroit Tigers’ Lloyd McClendon has not yet been lifted.

If one of these clubs wanted to take a chance on him, they wouldn’t be sorry; the only knock on Lombard — if one were to describe it that way — is that he has no lengthy managerial experience.

For George Lombard’s part, what shall be will be; tonight, his Dodgers stand on the threshold of winning their first World Series title in 32 years.

He’d be the first to admit that baseball is, well baseball.

And that to which his mother dedicated her life — the unyielding, unrelenting challenge of fighting racism — was, and is, far bigger in every way.

[Editor’s Note: This piece was written by Mr. Kaplan on October 27, 2020.]

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Peter J. Kaplan

Peter J. Kaplan

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