Brad Pye Jr Athletic Ctr1
Brad Pye, Jr. (c), with (l-r) Bernard Parks, Jr., Councilman Bernard Parks, Sr., Alexis White, Pye’s granddaughter; Jill White, Pye’s daughter; and Carl Cooper, Recreation & Parks Superintendent. (photo by JuanCarlos Chan /L.A. Department of Recreation and Parks)

Legendary sports journalist and broadcaster Brad Pye, Jr., added another honor to his long list of achievements when the City of Los Angeles named the gymnasium at Saint Andrews Recreation Center the Brad Pye, Jr., Athletic Center.

The dedication ceremony, held on June 22, recognized the many contributions of Pye, who was the first African-American President of the L.A. Department of Recreation and Parks Board of Commissioners.

Councilmember Bernard C. Parks said he spearheaded the effort to acknowledge Pye because he “had been on the forefront of dealing with youth activities and recreation and park facilities for decades.

“Brad put 10 years of his life, volunteer time, into the City of L.A. while he still had another job with the County. He made sure that our parks were well maintained, but what he did most of all, he made sure that there was representation of minorities at the higher ranks of Rec and Parks,” noted the Councilman.

“He started with zero African-American senior staff. But, when he left, there were 16. This is because of his commitment to make sure people had fair opportunities,” said Parks.

Expressing his appreciation, Pye said, “I am quite honored. It’s been a long time coming, like Sam Cooke said. ‘It’s been a long time coming, but a change is going to come.’ So, it came today and I’m so pleased.”

“I had the most enjoyable time working at Recreation and Parks. When I left the commission, the staff took me to lunch near Griffith Park and they told me, “You know, Brad, when a commissioner’s term is up, we say, ‘Good riddance!’ But, we just want to tell you, ‘Thank you for always standing up for the staff,’” recalled Pye, who worked full-time as the assistant chief deputy for the late L.A. County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn while serving as a commissioner from 1969 to 1979.

Brad Pye, Jr. (c) with youth at the dedication of the Brad Pye, Jr. Athletic Center. (photo by JuanCarlos Chan /L.A. Department of Recreation and Parks)
Brad Pye, Jr. (c) with youth at the dedication of the Brad Pye, Jr. Athletic Center. (photo by JuanCarlos Chan /L.A. Department of Recreation and Parks)

During his tenure, Pye was received four separate appointments as Commission President. Also, many credited him for opening senior positions within the Department to African American employees and paving the way for Algin Sutton to become the first African-American assistant General Manager and Jackie Tatum to be the first African-American General Manager of the Department.

Pye’s successes at Recreation and Parks were an extension of his accomplishments in other areas. Few are aware of Pye’s instrumental role in aiding thousands of residents as a deputy to both Hahn and former County Supervisor Yvonne Braithwaite Burke as well as manager of the Health and Safety/Return to Work Section of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

As a spokesperson for Hahn, Pye said, “I was his voice in ensuring that constituents were treated fairly and each complaint resolved in a timely manner.”

Pye worked briefly for Braithwaite Burke when she replaced Hahn as Supervisor and gained her support in creating the Aquatics Foundation, a free program that continues to exist today, helping youth to pursue their passion for swimming.

In 1993, Pye transferred to DCFS as a Division Chief.  In this capacity, he has served as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator, managed the Disaster Services Section, and directed the Exams/Recruitment Section.

“In every assignment, I tried my best to implement procedures to improve life for employees, volunteers, the disabled and citizens of L.A. County,” he said.

Pye is also heralded for his trailblazing news writing and broadcasting about the world of sports, especially his tireless efforts to publicize African American athletes. He served as sports editor for the Los Angeles Sentinel and sports columnist for the L.A. Watts Times, Compton Bulletin and Inland Valley News newspapers.

While employed as a sportswriter, Pye would host mentoring sessions at St. Andrews Recreation Center for local youth. In addition, he was a broadcaster on radio stations KGFJ, KJLH, KACE and KDAY.

Commenting on the significance of Pye’s legacy, Parks said, “It’s very important to recognize citizens who give of their time, because what we hope is that as children come here and see this sign, they’ll wonder who Mr. Brad Pye is and will do some research and find out what an impact he has made.”