Fifty-nine-year-old Satchel Paige pitches three innings

Fifty-nine-year-old Satchel Paige pitches three innings


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On September 25, 1965, the Kansas City Athletics start ageless wonder Satchel Paige in a game against the Boston Red Sox. The 59-year-old Paige, a Negro League legend, proved his greatness once again by giving up only one hit in his three innings of play.

Leroy Page was born on July 7, 1906, in Mobile, Alabama. Page’s family changed the spelling of their name to Paige to differentiate themselves from John Page, Leroy’s absent and abusive father. “Satchel” got his nickname as a boy while working as a luggage carrier at the Mobile train station. When he was 12, his constant truancy coupled with a shoplifting incident got him sent to the Industrial School for Negro Children in Mount Meigs, Alabama. It turned out to be a lucky break, as it was there that Paige learned to pitch. After leaving the school, he turned pro.

From 1927 to 1948 Paige served as the baseball equivalent of a hired gun: He pitched for any team in the United States or abroad that could afford him. He was the highest paid pitcher of his time, and he wowed crowds with the speed of his fastball, his trick pitches and his considerable bravado. Just for fun, Paige would sometimes call in his outfield and then strike out the side. From 1939 to 1942, the Kansas City Monarchs paid up for his services and were justly rewarded: Paige led the team to four consecutive Negro American League pennants from 1939 to 1942. In the 1942 Negro League World Series, Satchel won three games in a four-game sweep of the Homestead Grays, led by famed slugger Josh Gibson.

Paige’s contract was bought by Bill Veeck’s Cleveland Indians on July 7, 1948, his 42nd birthday. He made his major league debut two days later, entering in the fifth inning against the St. Louis Browns with the Indians trailing 4-1. He gave up two singles in two innings, striking one man out and inducing one batter to hit into a double play. The Indians lost the game 5-3 in spite of Paige’s contribution. That year Satchel Paige went 6-1 with a solid 2.48 ERA for the World Champion Cleveland Indians and was named to Major League Baseball’s All-Star Team for the American League in 1952 and 1953, when he was 46 and 47 years old respectively.

On September 25, 1965, Paige’s three innings for the Kansas City Athletics made him, at 59 years, 2 months and 18 days, the oldest pitcher ever to play a game in the major leagues. Before the game, Paige sat in the bullpen in a rocking chair while a nurse rubbed liniment into his pitching arm for the entire crowd to see. Any doubts about Paige’s ability were put to rest when he set down each of the Red Sox batters he faced except for Carl Yastremski, who hit a double.

Arguably the greatest pitcher of his era, Paige was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971. He died in 1982.


Satchel Paige 1951 Game by Game Pitching Logs

Satchel Paige pitched in 23 Major League games during the 1951 regular season. The chart below is a comprehensive analysis of the games Paige pitched in, specifically relating to his 1951 pitching statistics. Notes: The Date / Box field has a link to the box score from the game being described. If the Date is followed by an asterisk (*), Paige started that game. Cumulative monthly totals are provided where applicable.

"I'll be 35 this year and I can only pitch as long as Satchel Paige. That gives me 35 more years." - Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Tug McGraw (1979)


The night Satchel played in Riverhead baseball history unearthed here

Riverhead was abuzz. Cars and throngs of people made their way toward Riverhead Stadium while police directed traffic and the overflow crowd on the evening of July 21, 1950. The anticipation and excitement that summer evening must have been virtually palpable. They had all come for a big show, to watch a baseball legend.

It was the night Satchel Paige pitched in Riverhead.

Nearly 71 years later, Constantine Ricci’s memories of that night — and Paige — remain vivid.

“I remember every pitch. You know why? Because it was only three pitches.”

Constantine Ricci

Paige pitched for the Philadelphia Stars in a barnstorming game against the semipro Riverhead Falcons. Not only was Ricci there, but he said he played third base for the Falcons for every inning for three years, including that magical night against Paige.

Does Ricci remember how he fared in his single at-bat against Paige?

“I remember every pitch. You know why? Because it was only three pitches,” he said, laughing.

Ricci, 93, speaking in a phone interview from his Dallas residence, had made an all-metropolitan team three years in a row while playing for Hofstra College. At the time of that memorable game he was 22, a good contact hitter with a knack for hitting breaking balls.

When it came time for Ricci’s turn at the plate, he said he surprisingly wasn’t nervous. The first pitch was a shoulder-high fastball that Ricci fouled off. “The second pitch was the exact same pitch and I did the exact same thing,” he said. “I want to add, on my behalf, now they would be [called] balls because they were shoulder high. And the third pitch, I’m now 93 years old and I still don’t know what he threw me because I never saw that pitch before. It looked like a fastball on the outside corner. This is what I thought was going to happen. Then, all of a sudden, the ball like jumped into the strike zone and I took a third strike. I still don’t know what he threw.”

Ricci then took his seat on the bench and watched as Paige mowed down other batters. The Stars went on to a 10-5 win before a reported record stadium crowd of 6,155.

What brought added intrigue to this game, well after the fact, is that Carl Yastrzemski Jr., like Paige a future National Baseball Hall of Famer, was a 10-year-old batboy at the time for the Falcons and his father played for the Falcons in that game.

Yastrzemski Jr., who was a standout athlete at Bridgehampton High School, played 3,308 games over a 23-year MLB career with the Boston Red Sox. He totaled 452 home runs and 1,844 RBIs. His grandson, Mike, is a San Francisco Giants outfielder.

Ricci, who doesn’t know if he’s the only surviving Falcons player, said memories of facing Paige were triggered last month when he read a story about the Stars-Falcons game by Newsday’s John Valenti.

“It really knocked me for a loop when I saw” the Newsday story, he said. “I was amazed. This was like 70 years ago! … It brought back many, many memories that I haven’t thought about.”

Fabio Montella, an assistant professor of library services and history for Suffolk County Community College’s Eastern Campus in Riverhead, came across this intriguing bit of baseball history while doing research. He wrote a research paper titled, “Satchel & The Yastrzemskis: A Long Island Narrative.”

Montella has been in touch with Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame executive director Chris Vaccaro about the matter. When Vaccaro learned that Paige had played in Riverhead, he was taken aback.

“He’s one of the biggest names in the history of the game pitching right in our county,” Vaccaro said. “And the tie-in with the Yastrzemski family makes it just perfect because there’s no bigger name on the East End or arguably in Long Island history than Carl Yastrzemski, and the fact that young Carl was a batboy and big Carl is playing in the game makes this one of the most unique moments in time in Suffolk County history.”

Vaccaro said the SSHOF would like to place a historic marker on the site where Riverhead Stadium was located, similar to a historic marker it placed at the Long Island Ducks’ stadium in Central Islip in 2019. Riverhead Raceway is among other sites he is interested in for historic markers. “It’s been my vision to honor locations of sporting history just as much as we honor people who are significant in sports,” he said.

Montella said Riverhead Stadium was built by Anthony Wivchar in 1949 and he believes it closed in 1951 or 1952 because it wasn’t producing enough revenue to make it viable.

Riverhead Town historian Georgette Case said she had seen an aerial photo that clearly showed the stadium was located where Riverhead High School now sits on Harrison Avenue.

Vaccaro said he needs formal approval from the school district to erect such a historical marker on the site, and said he has exchanged emails with the school district clerk regarding the matter. He said if that approval is granted, it would take a few months for the marker to be made and delivered.

In the three scoreless innings he pitched that night in 1950, Paige recorded five strikeouts and no walks. The only hit he allowed was a triple to Jerry McCarthy, and that came off an eephus pitch, a playfully lobbed slow toss, said Ricci.

Bob Burns, covering the game for the Riverhead News-Review, reported that Paige “seeming to thoroughly enjoy himself, was far too fast and tricky for the locals in his stint …” Burns wrote, “All in all, he gave a masterful performance without seeming to work too hard.”

The Falcons were an interesting group. They had a New York Knicks basketball player, Carl Braun, pitch for them, and McCarthy, who had three big-league at-bats for the St. Louis Browns in 1948 and dated actress Grace Kelly, said Ricci. (Braun’s family had a summer house in Mattituck, according to Ricci).

Yastrzemski Jr. saw Paige strike out his father. Bringing things to full circle, it was the younger Yastrzemski who had the last hit off Paige in Paige’s final major league game Sept. 25, 1965, when he played in a game for the Kansas City Athletics.

Many years later, Yastrzemski Jr. recalled Paige fanning his father in Riverhead. “He had the same nice, easy motion against my dad that he had when he pitched against me,” he told the Kansas City Star in a 2015 interview. “Very easy, deliberate, then boom.”

The County Review, which was a Riverhead-based newspaper, wrote in an advance story before the Stars-Falcons game that baseball experts “are agreed that in his prime Paige ranked right alongside such all time pitching greats as Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Dizzy Dean and Bob Feller at their best.” The paper said Paige’s control at the time was “still uncanny and his fast ball and curve ranks with the best.”

The 1965 game was a one-game comeback for Paige, and seen as a publicity stunt by Athletics owner Charlie Finley, whose team was struggling in the standings and in attendance.

Paige was believed to be at least 59 years old at the time of that last game, but did anyone really know how old he was? Paige himself may not have known his actual age, one of the many mysteries surrounding the man with the rubber arm.

A quote attributed to Paige addressed the age issue: “Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

A master showman, Paige played along with the gimmick surrounding his game with the Athletics at his age (whatever it was). The Associated Press snapped a photo of Paige being tended to by a nurse while he sat in a rocking chair near the dugout.

A visual aid to the Paige legend.

“The thing about Satchel, he was up there in age, but a lot of historians truly believe that his age wasn’t accurate,” Montella said. “Nobody really [knew] his exact age. Some say that when he pitched his final game in the major leagues at 59, he might have even been 69, which is unheard of, throwing 80 to 90 miles an hour.”

He continued: “Satchel was that unique, almost freakish combination of power and precision, and I think his precision was more of a threat to hitters … He would hit a cigarette in a teammate’s mouth from 60 feet away, knock it out. And it just shows you two things: It shows you, one, how accurate he was and two, his teammates had that much trust in his precision that they were willing to stand there with a cigarette in their mouth while someone is throwing a ball across your face.”

Paige’s baseball career was remarkable, by any definition. It spanned five decades, beginning in the Negro Leagues in the 1920s. He made his MLB debut with the Cleveland Indians on July 7, 1948. Later that year, he became the first Black player to pitch in a World Series (which the Indians won). That was one year after Jackie Robinson broke the MLB color barrier, playing with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Paige played for the Indians in 1949, too, before returning to the majors in 1951 for three seasons (twice as an all-star) with the St. Louis Browns before making that one-game appearance with the Athletics in 1965.

His MLB stats, according to baseball-reference.com: a 28-31 record and 3.29 ERA over 179 games and 476 innings pitched over six seasons. Those figures don’t even come close to telling the full tale, though.

What about his Negro League numbers? Good question.

Negro League statistics and record keeping was lacking. Paige insisted he kept his own records and reported pitching in more than 2,500 games and winning 2,000 or so as well as playing for 250 teams and throwing 250 shutouts, according to biography.com.

Paige did a good deal of traveling, playing in barnstorming games throughout the country and in other countries as well.

In 1971, Paige became the first Negro Leagues player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Yastrzemski Jr. made it to Cooperstown in 1986.

“You have one of the greatest pitchers, not just of the Negro Leagues, but of all time, coming to Long Island and everybody knew of him,” Montella said. “Satchel was a celebrity. He wasn’t by any stretch of the imagination unknown. He was probably more familiar than most major league players.”

Case said she has been aware of the stadium, but didn’t know Paige had played there. “That is history, history uncovered,” she said, adding, “If we don’t keep history alive, we lose a lot of this information.”

Case was aware, however, that Babe Ruth had played in Riverhead in November of 1923. Ruth played in a barnstorming game against a team of Suffolk County all-stars on the “Fair Grounds” in Riverhead, but the event was deemed a financial failure, according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Some businesses closed shop for the occasion and high school students were allowed to leave school early to see the Great Bambino play. Despite that, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle wrote “there were hardly more [than] 1,000 persons dancing about in heavy ‘blankets’ trying to keep warm enough to see the exhibition through to its finish.

“Eastern Long Island found the Babe to be all that the press stories have said he was. He gave a good exhibition of long hitting prior to the game. In the game itself he got only one homer, that in the first inning, bringing in one run ahead of him. While here he autographed a peck or so of baseballs …

“The game itself was about as complete a burlesque as has ever been played in the county.”

Montella wants to write a book about Long Island’s baseball history. “A lot of stuff I sort of discovered myself for the first time, and as I’m discovering it, I’m saying, ‘How did we not know about this?’ ” he said. “I’m looking forward to discovering more because I know there’s a lot of history out there.”

Despite that early strikeout against Paige, Ricci still went 2-for-4 in the game against the Stars, those hits coming after Paige had left the game. Ricci still has a lasting image of Paige’s delivery.

“He was about 6-3 or 6-4 and very, very thin,” Ricci said. “When I faced him, all I saw was elbows and knees, and he had the smoothest delivery. He looked like he had no effort at all, but that ball came in, you know, in those days, 90-plus miles [an hour]. He still had the speed.”

Paige died on June 8, 1982.

“When somebody asks me, what did I do in baseball, I don’t give them any pluses, I give them a negative,” Ricci said. “I faced Satchel Paige and I struck out. That was my fame to baseball.”

Bob Liepa is the sports editor for Times Review Media Group, where he has worked since 1992. Raised in East Meadow, the Long Island native has won both Writer and Sportswriter of the Year from the New York State Press Association.

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3 thoughts on &ldquoFrom the archive: Satchel Paige’s shutout inning in 1969&rdquo

There were more sides to the great Satchel Paige then he ever let on.
I recall the story Buck O’ Neill told in Ken Burns’ Baseball documentary, when he and Paige had come across a former slave auction site– if my memory serves they were visiting on the James Island when they came across it unexpectedly. They stood there for a long while quietly and at one point Satchel turns to O’Neil and says something like, “Do you have the feeling we’ve been here before?” O’Neil agreed and they moved on.

Love these old newspaper clippings!

man o man what he could have done for Baseball in the 30s-wow–maybe the greatest ever–Dizzy Dean said he was the greatest pitcher he ever saw!


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Cleveland Indians owner Bill Veeck signed Paige midway through the 1948 season, making him the first African-American pitcher in the American League. Paige went 6-1 with a 2.48 earned-run average down the stretch, helping Cleveland win the American League pennant and eventually the World Series.

“He took a chewing gum wrapper and put it down in front of the catcher and threw about eight out of 10 right across it,” said former big leaguer Mickey Vernon, who was Paige’s teammate with the Indians in 1949. “And he wasn’t lobbing them in either. He was putting some zip on them.”

Paige pitched for the Indians again in 1949, then for the Browns from 1951-53 after Veeck bought the St. Louis outpost in the American League. He was named to the AL All-Star Game roster in both 1952 and 1953, then continued to pitch in the minor leagues after being released prior to the 1954 season.

Satchel Paige joined the Cleveland Indians in 1948 at the age of 42 and helped pitch the Tribe to the 1948 World Series title. (National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)

Paige’s pinpoint control allowed him to remain active into the mid-1960s. Then late in the 1965 season, A’s owner Charlie Finley signed Paige for one game.

On Sept. 25, in front of 9,289 fans at Kansas City’s Municipal Stadium, Paige faced started against the Red Sox and faced 10 batters, “relaxing” in a rocking chair between innings.

But Paige’s performance was no joke. He allowed a first-inning double to Carl Yastrzemski, but retired the Red Sox in order in both the second and third innings – including a strikeout of Boston pitcher Bill Monbouquette.

Paige even came to the plate himself, striking out.

Paige was removed to the game prior to the fourth inning, leaving the field to a standing ovation.

In 179 big league games over six seasons – all after turning 42 years old – Paige went 28-31 with 33 saves and a 3.29 earned-run average. He was named to two All-Star Games with the Browns in the 1950s and finished 17th in the American League MVP voting in 1952.

Paige returned to the national spotlight in 1971, when he became the first Negro Leagues player elected to the Hall of Fame by the Committee on Negro Baseball Leagues.

Paige passed away on June 8, 1982.

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

Satchel Paige became the oldest player to appear in a big league game when he pitched for the Kansas City Athletics on Sept. 25. 1965 at the age of 59. (National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)

Satchel Paige gives his Hall of Fame Induction Speech in front of the Museum's Library on Aug. 9, 1971 in Cooperstown. Paige was the first Negro Leagues player elected to the Hall of Fame. (National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)


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For seven minutes, the Hall’s first Negro Leagues inductee would look back, with humor and poignancy, on a four-decade baseball odyssey that had seen him barnstorm to every nook and cranny of the United States – and beyond. That Paige had finally arrived at a destination he never thought would open its doors to him totally blew his mind.

The man who had struck out Jim Crow and laid the foundation for Jackie Robinson to integrate a sport and a nation soaked in the applause of the 2,500 mostly white spectators who had congregated in Cooperstown that historic day. But, while basking in the limelight, the tall, slender 65-year-old couldn’t help but feel conflicted. Voices dueled inside Paige’s head.

“Should he be grateful that the lords of hardball were finally acknowledging that blackball had brilliant players, or should he resent them – and all of America – for making him pitch his best ball in the shadows?” author Larry Tye explained in his award-winning biography, “Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend”.

“Was what counted that he was the first vintage Negro Leaguer to be voted into this most exclusive club and the (first) pitcher ever to make it with a losing record in the (white) Majors? Or was it that the Hall had tried to banish him to a separate and unequal wing?”

Satchel Paige thrilled the crowd at the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Aug. 9, 1971, with stories of his days in the Negro Leagues and the big leagues. (National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)

Though Paige had every right to be bitter, he opted to express gratitude rather than regret when he arrived at the podium and was shown the bronze plaque that would hang near ones immortalizing Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson, Bob Feller, Dizzy Dean and Robinson.

On Feb. 9, 1971, Paige had been nominated to the Hall of Fame, beginning a process that would end with his induction.

“Since I’ve been here, I’ve heard myself called some very nice names,’’ he began, grinning broadly beneath horn-rimmed glasses. “And I can remember when some of the men (enshrined in the Hall) called me some bad, bad names when I used to pitch against them.”

Paige evoked more laughter when he talked about how former Cleveland Indians owner Bill Veeck had been lambasted for signing him to a contract in 1948 at the advanced age of 42. “They told him to get anyone but Paige – he’s too old,’’’ Satchel said, pointing to his former boss in the crowd. “Well, Mr. Veeck, I got you off the hook today.”

Paige mentioned how he once pitched 165 straight days in a row, and jokingly explained why he took his sweet time walking to the mound. “I never rushed myself,’’ he deadpanned, “because I knew they couldn’t start the game until I got out there.”

His speech was interrupted by laughter 13 times, but it was much more than a comedic monologue. There were touching moments, too, like when he spoke candidly about how he wished he – not Robinson – had been the one to break baseball’s color barrier. But he added that, upon further reflection, he realized Jackie had been the right man for that enormous challenge.

Paige concluded by saying he “was the proudest man on the earth today,” prompting a standing ovation. Ted Page, a former teammate, was among those springing to their feet.

“I cried a little, but I came away from that ceremony a lot taller,’’ Page told the New Pittsburgh Courier, a newspaper with a predominantly Black readership. “When Satch stood up to be inducted, he was standing up for all of us who had played the game during the days when we knew we were good but weren’t recognized for being that way. His acceptance was vindication that we were as good as any man. I’m only happy that I was alive to see it.”

Paige’s unrivaled pitching and showmanship, particularly in interracial exhibition games against white aces like Dizzy Dean and Bob Feller, had paved the way for baseball integration. His induction into the Hall a half century ago would blaze trails, too. It opened the shrine’s doors for Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston, Cool Papa Bell, and other Negro League legends whom history had forgotten. In the 10 years following Paige’s immortal moment, nine more of his Black contemporaries were enshrined. In 2006, a special committee righted a bunch more wrongs, electing 17 Black baseball pioneers, including the first female inductee, former Negro Leagues owner Effa Manley. In total, 34 Negro Leagues legends have followed Paige to Cooperstown.

Satchel Paige pitched in six big league seasons, including the 1952 and 1953 campaigns when he was an All-Star with the St. Louis Browns. (National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)

This press release from Feb. 9, 1971, announced that Satchel Paige had been elected to the Hall of Fame. (National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)

Writers from African-American newspapers had long lobbied for Paige’s inclusion, but the campaign among the mainstream, white media didn’t really start until 1952 when Sport magazine’s Ed Fitzgerald publicly championed the cause. It would be another decade before the movement gained steam. According to Donald Spivey’s biography, “If You Were Only White”, a “Paige For Hall of Fame Committee” was formed in Connecticut in 1961, with founder John Henry Norton collecting letters of support.

Not surprisingly, Veeck became an ardent supporter, telling reporters: “If Paige had been brought up to the majors in his prime, today’s Cy Young Award would be known as the Satchel Paige Award.” Feller, who had waged mound duels with Paige in front of overflowing crowds, also jumped on board, calling Satchel’s exclusion from the Hall “patently unfair.”

The greatest impetus, though, would come from Ted Williams during his 1966 Hall of Fame induction speech. His unexpected comments pushing for the enshrinement of Paige, Gibson and other Negro Leaguers prompted organized baseball to take action. Two years later, a special 10-man committee was formed to recommend which Black pioneers should be inducted. That Paige would be the unanimous first choice was not surprising, given his crossover popularity and achievements. In addition to his barnstorming tours, he had helped Cleveland win a pennant and World Series title, and was the first African-American pitcher to start a game in the white big leagues and pitch in a Fall Classic. By tossing three scoreless innings in a 1965 game for the Kansas City Athletics at age 59, Paige made good on another one of his adages: “Age is a matter of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”

From left, Chick Hafey, Satchel Paige, Harry Hooper and Rube Marquard comprised part of the Hall of Fame Class of 1971. Dave Bancroft, Jake Beckley, Joe Kelley and George Weiss were also elected that year. (National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)

His pithy sayings and humorous names for his array of pitches (“Bat Dodger,” “Bee Ball,” “Hesitation Ball”) contributed to the larger-than-life persona he had created, but the slapstick occasionally muddied the argument that he was the greatest pitcher of all-time.

Though records are sketchy, the best information available suggests Paige had an overall Negro Leagues record of 146-64 with 1,620 strikeouts and just 316 bases on balls, and a American League record of 28-31, with a 3.29 earned run average and 33 saves. Paige argued those stats significantly short-changed him. He claimed he pitched in more than 2,500 games, winning roughly 2,000 of them, with 55 no-hitters and somewhere between 250-330 shutouts.

Satchel Paige became the player inducted into the Hall of Fame via the Special Committee on Negro Baseball Leagues, which convened for the first time in 1971. (National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)

Numerous Hall of Famers vouched for his greatness. Dean said his fastball looked like a change-up compared “to that little pistol bullet Satchel shoots up to the plate.” Joe DiMaggio said Paige was the best and fastest pitcher he faced. Slugger Hack Wilson claimed Satchel made baseballs look as small as marbles to batters struggling to see and hit them.

The announcement of Paige’s unanimous election at a packed press conference in Manhattan on Feb. 9, 1971 was supposed to be a crowning moment for him and for baseball. But the festivities took a sour turn when it was revealed his plaque would hang in a different room than previous inductees. Though Paige publicly accepted this “separate but unequal” decision – “I’m proud to be wherever they put me” – the media did not.

“The notion of Jim Crow in Baseball’s Heaven is appalling,’’ columnist Jim Murray wrote in the Los Angeles Times. “What is this – 1840? Either let him in the front of the Hall – or move the damn thing to Mississippi.”

Jackie Robinson suggested Paige boycott the induction.

Privately, Satchel seethed, telling friends, “The only change is that baseball has turned Paige from a second-class citizen to a second-class immortal.”

On July 7 – Satch’s 65th birthday – saner heads prevailed and MLB Commissioner Bowie Kuhn and Hall President Paul Kerr announced Paige’s plaque would hang in the main hall. “I guess they finally found out I was really worthy,’’ Paige told reporters. “I appreciate it to the highest.”

Following his induction, he spoke frankly with reporters on a variety of topics, including his candidacy to become MLB’s first Black manager. “I could manage easy – I’ve been in baseball 40 years,’’ he said. “And I would want to manage.” But he also offered a reason why it wouldn’t happen. “I don’t think the white is ready to listen to the colored yet,’’ he said. “That’s why they’re afraid to get a Black manager. They’re afraid everybody won’t take orders from him. You know there are plenty of qualified guys around.”

Among them was Frank Robinson, who would topple that racial barrier four years later when he was hired to manage the Indians. Paige’s comments had set the wheels in motion.

It was all part of his remarkable, trailblazing journey – a journey that saw him bust open some doors in Cooperstown 50 summers ago, clearing a path for Black pioneers to finally feel at home in the home of baseball.


Fifty-nine-year-old Satchel Paige pitches three innings - HISTORY

He was the oldest rookie. The oldest player. And one of the greatest pitchers.

Last month, the Cleveland Indians lost the 2016 World Series to the Chicago Cubs in seven games. The Indians had last won a World Series in 1948. During the summer of that season, owner Bill Veeck (pronounced “Veck”) had signed a rookie to Cleveland’s star-filled roster to help the club battle for the pennant. The hurler went 6-1 and helped his team clinch the pennant by one game over the Boston Braves.

The pitcher was Leroy Robert Page—better known as Satchel Paige. Here are some interesting facts about the man some say may have been the greatest pitcher ever.

Satchel Paige became a Major League rookie at the age of 42.
He was signed by Veeck on July 7, 1948, on his 42nd birthday. He’d make his Major League debut for Cleveland two days later and later went on to pitch for six seasons. Seventeen years later he became the oldest person ever to play in the Majors.

Satchel Paige pitched in more games than probably anyone else.
He was limber, loose, athletic, energetic and loved the game. He started pitching when he was 26 years old for a Minors team in the Negro Leagues, one of dozens (or hundreds) of teams he’d pitch for. He pitched in the United States, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico and in hundreds of exhibition games. He claims to have pitched in 2,500 games in all. As one writer put it, “It has been said that Paige threw more pitches in more stadiums in front of more people and in more years than anyone in professional baseball history.”

Satchel Paige was “the first” in many things.
He was the first African-American to pitch in the Major Leagues, to pitch in the World Series, to pitch in Wrigley Field (in exhibition games) and to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown. And he was one of the first players from the Negro Leagues to play in the World Series, along with his Cleveland teammate Larry Doby.

Satchel Paige had an unusual pitching style.
He’d kick his leg high in the air to “block out the sun” as well as to confuse the hitters, who’d never seen anything like that. He’d also hold his right arm—his pitching arm—straight down, and then swing it forward quickly and release the ball as late as he could, so it would almost look as if “his hand was in the batter’s face.”

Satchel Paige was extremely quotable.
He was one of the most quotable athletes ever, along the lines of Yogi Berra and Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali. He was colorful in life, colorful on the mound and had a keen view of life. Here are some of his best quotes:
• “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?”
• “I ain’t ever had a job. I just always played baseball.”
• “Work like you don’t need the work. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching.”
• “Don’t look back something might be gaining on you.”
• “Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”

He gave each of his pitches a name.
We’re not talking “cutter” or “split-fingered.” We’re talking about fun names that showed Satchel loved the game. Most of the pitches were fastballs.
• the bat dodger
• the midnight express
• the midnight crawler
• the trouble ball
• the nothing ball
• the whipsy-dipsy-do

One of his pitches was banned.

Paige developed a “hesitation pitch” early in his career in the Negro Leagues, but it was banned by American League President Will Harridge in 1948 after Major League batters complained about it. Here’s how Paige described it:

“The idea came to me in a game, when the guy at bat was all tighted up waiting for my fastball. I knew he’d swing as soon as I just barely moved. So when I stretched, I paused just a little longer with my arms above my head. Then I threw my left foot forward but I didn’t come around with my arm right away. I put that foot of mine down, stopping for a second, before the ball left my hand. When my foot hit the ground, that boy started swinging, so by the time I came around with the whip, he was way off stride and couldn’t get anywhere near the ball. I had me a strikeout.”

Satchel Paige pitched his last game when he was 59.
As a promotional stunt, the owner of the Oakland A’s hired Satchel Paige to pitch the first three innings of a game on September 25, 1965. He faced the Boston Red Sox, a good-hitting team that year. Paige tossed three shutout innings against the Red Sox. Only one batter, Carl Yastrzemski, got a hit—a double.

Satchel Paige, at the age of 59, needed only 28 pitches to retire nine Boston batters. He even brushed off his hesitation pitch for the crowd that night. He got the batter to pop up for an out.

How great was Satchel Paige?
He ended his short career in the Majors with a 28-31 record and a 3.29 ERA. But there was no way anyone could record Satchel Paige’s 22 professional seasons, during which he had pitched anywhere, everywhere, and often every day, before his 1948 MLB debut. According to his own accounting, he pitched for 250 teams and threw 250 shutouts. He claimed to have hurled 50 no-hitters, had 29 starts in a month, collected 21 straight wins, tossed 62 consecutive scoreless innings, made 153 pitching appearances in one year and had three wins in one day.

Many white Major League players faced Satchel Paige before he entered the Majors in 1948, in exhibition games and barnstorming tours. Joe DiMaggio would say that Paige was the best he ever faced. Bob Feller, who was Paige’s teammate on the Indians, said Paige was the best he ever saw. The great Hack Wilson exclaimed that the ball “looked like a marble when it crossed the plate.” And Dizzy Dean was quoted as saying Paige’s fastball made his own look like a changeup.


Satchel Paige: Pitching through history

With a professional baseball career spanning the jazz age to the space age, pitcher Leroy Robert “Satchel” Paige (1906—1982) established himself not only as one of the most dominant American athletes of all time, but also as one of the most remarkable. Thanks to a generous gift, the museum recently acquired a baseball signed by Paige, inspiring us to share the story of this timeless legend.

Official American Association baseball autographed in ink by pitcher Satchel Paige, around 1970–1980. Gift of Thomas Tull.

Paige earned the nickname “Satchel” as a boy, when he made money carrying passengers' bags at the train station in his hometown of Mobile, Alabama. Sent to the Industrial School for Negro Children in Mount Meigs at the age of 12 for the minor offense of stealing some toy rings from a store, Paige worked on his baseball skills until his release just before his 18th birthday.

Satchel Paige baseball card, 1953. Note the misspelling of his first name.

In 1924 Paige earned his first baseball paycheck pitching for the semi-professional Mobile Tigers. Paige's lanky 6'3" frame helped him dominate the semi-pro opposition, and he was signed to the Negro Southern League’s Chattanooga Black Lookouts in 1926.

Paige thus began his lengthy and nomadic professional baseball career. Records for the various Negro League Organizations are scarce and incomplete, but we know that between 1926 and 1947 Paige played for the Lookouts, the Birmingham Black Barons, the Baltimore Black Sox, the Cleveland Cubs, the Pittsburgh Crawfords, the Kansas City Monarchs, the New York Black Yankees, the Memphis Red Sox, and the Philadelphia Stars. He also moonlighted in other exhibition games and winter leagues, and by "barnstorming" with rural traveling teams.

Baseball signed by Negro League players, including Satchel Paige.

Paige was beloved not only for his dominance on the mound, but for his enthusiasm and cocksure personality. He loved to impress the crowd, striking out batters with speed and control. Paige excelled with the 1942 Kansas City Monarchs, who won the Negro League World Series. The team, managed by Frank Duncan, and led by Paige and Buck O’Neil, is considered one of the most talented teams in Negro League history. As O’Neil has said of the club, “I do believe we could have given the New York Yankees a run for their money that year.”

Negro League jacket patch, Buck O’Neil, 1942 Monarchs

Paige finally got his chance to pitch before Major League audiences in 1948, two years after Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Signed mid-season by the Cleveland Indians, the oldest rookie in Major League history at 42 years old, he set attendance records in Cleveland and Chicago on his first three starts.

Paige went 6-1 with the Indians, helping the team reach the World Series, where, called to the mound in Game 5, he became the first African American player to pitch in a Major League championship game. The Indians would take the title, defeating the Braves four games to two.

After pitching for Cleveland for another year, Paige briefly left Major League Baseball, barnstorming for a couple of years before returning to the Majors in 1951, signing with the St. Louis Browns and being named to two All-Star teams.

Baseball, signed by the 1951 St. Louis Browns, including Satchel Paige

After leaving the Browns in 1953, Paige continued to pitch for barnstorming teams and in the minor leagues. Paige’s last Major League appearance was in 1965, when at 59 he played one game for the Kansas City A’s and threw three shutout innings against the Boston Red Sox.

Paige’s last turns on the mound came in 1967, pitching for the Indianapolis Clowns, the last all-black baseball club. By his own estimation, he had pitched in about 2,500 games before putting down his glove for good.

Despite his popularity, success, and lengthy career, Paige’s legacy has been overlooked due to racial inequities. It is a testament to his abilities and charisma that he could become a living legend, despite being forced to play outside of the Major Leagues for the majority of his career and doing so while facing wide-ranging discriminatory practices and bigotry. As he said himself in 1982, the year of his death, “They said I was the greatest pitcher they ever saw. . . . I couldn’t understand why they couldn’t give me no justice.”

Eric W. Jentsch is Curator of Popular Culture and Sports for the Division of Culture and the Arts.


Barnstorming Aces Satchel Paige and Dizzy Dean

Satchel ambled onto ballfields like an unjointed turkey and wowed fans with his pinpoint accuracy.

Most of the 12,000 baseball fans who crowded into Cleveland’s venerable League Park one October afternoon in 1934 had come to watch Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean, the pitching ace who just two weeks before had led the St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series championship. Dean was America’s darling, the dizziest of a brawling, cursing Cardinals team affectionately dubbed the Gas House Gang. He also was a bigot, or at least that’s what a casual observer would have concluded from his roots in segregationist Arkansas and his liberal use of slurs like “coon” and “nigger.” On this Sunday, Dizzy and his brother Paul “Daffy” Dean, his teammate on the Cardinals, had rented themselves out to the all-white Rosenblums, Cleveland’s top minor league team, for a barnstorming exhibition game against Leroy “Satchel” Paige and his all-black Crawfords from Pittsburgh. Dizzy was sharp for the three innings he tossed, allowing a single run on four hits before joining Daffy in the outfield. But Satchel was transcendent. In six hitless innings, he struck out 13 of the 18 batters he faced, as the Craws beat the Rosies 4-1. “Satchel Outhurls Dizzy” blared a headline in the Pittsburgh Courier, the city’s African-American newspaper.

Black and white players had been testing each other’s mettle on the barnstorming circuit long before Jackie Robinson crossed baseball’s color line when the Brooklyn Dodgers called him up in 1947. Even the best-paid professionals had trouble making ends meet and welcomed the opportunity to earn extra income from games played in both tiny hamlets and towering cities between all-black and all-white traveling teams. In the East, games were fitted in between the end of the World Series and the onset of winter in the Midwest they were scheduled around the harvest in California, Florida and the Caribbean they continued until spring. No player barnstormed as wide or far as Satchel Paige, a gangly phenom who ambled onto ballfields like an unjointed turkey and wowed fans during his warm-ups by sticking the thin foil wrapper from a stick of Wrigley’s gum on home plate and then tossing one ball after another over it with pinpoint accuracy. Perpetual movement suited Satchel’s disposition: He was eager to follow the sun and money wherever they took him. But nothing fired him up more than the chance to face off against white baseball’s ace of aces: Dizzy Dean.

Satchel and Dizzy were alter egos. Both were underfed, loose-boned boys from Dixie whose down-home demeanor belied their sagacity. Paige grew up in a shotgun shack in Mobile, Ala., where as a pint-sized baggage boy at the Louisville & Nashville Railroad station he earned extra tips by using a rope and pole to pull several suitcases at once. “You look like a walking satchel tree,” yelled one of his fellow porters the nickname stuck. Dean, the son of an itinerant sharecropper, joined the army as a teen and earned the wrath of a sergeant who caught him flinging newly peeled potatoes at garbage can lids. “You dizzy son of a bitch,” the sergeant barked in a voice loud enough for the entire regiment to hear and agree. Each pitcher preferred his nickname to his real one, and delighted in fractured aphorisms that were so alike it seemed they were writing one another’s lines. “It ain’t braggin’ if you can back it up,” was one of Dean’s most-quoted folk philosophies. Satchel’s was “If you can do it, it ain’t bragging.” Both delivered often enough to earn election to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The gritty play of both men during the Depression era was endearing to a nation weary of bread lines and an economy that kept hitting bottom. For nine years beginning in 1931, Satchel tore through white lineups during interracial contests in the California Winter League, striking out an average of 12 players a game. On the mound he’d twist his leg in the air like a pretzel, whip his arm back and send the ball plateward at speeds approaching 100 mph. From 1930 to 1937, Dean anchored the Cardinals pitching staff, capturing four consecutive strikeout titles and winning 20 games four seasons in a row. His brand of baseball was rawboned and hell-bent, as he showed in game four of the ’34 World Series when he entered the game as a pinch runner and broke up a double play by leaping forehead-first into the path of the ball. He had to be carried off the field after crumpling to the ground like a broken doll, but was back to pitch the next game.

The frequent barnstorming matchups between Satchel and Dizzy were occasions for both serious and humorous one-upmanship. Sometimes Dean’s teammates were merely the best local players he could muster. Occasionally they were top-of-the-line major leaguers like Wally Berger, a lifetime .300 hitter for the Boston Braves. Berger remembers one day when he got the only hits off Satchel, a double and triple, and Satchel “followed me around for a second, looked at me and said, ‘How’d you hit that one?’ I got a kick out of that. Satchel went back to the mound and struck out the next three batters in order.”

Talking to base runners was part of Satchel’s routine. Normally he shouted from the mound but when he really wanted to make a point or stir up fans, he walked his message to the base. He did that once in Dayton, Ohio, after Dizzy tripled off him with a blooper over first and nobody out. “The fans were yellin’ their head off for me,” Dean told a radio audience, “when ol’ Satch walks over and says to me, ‘I hope all your friends brought plenty to eat, Diz, because if they wait for you to score, they’re gonna be here past dark. You ain’t goin’ no further.’ Then he fanned the next three.” On another occasion, Dizzy went on the radio before a game in Oklahoma City and claimed Satchel had no clue how to throw a curve. When Dizzy came up to bat that afternoon Satchel yelled, “Hear say you’re goin’ around tellin’ people I ain’t got a curve….Well, then, you tell me what this is.” He threw three curves, with Dizzy swinging at air each time. “How’s that,” Satchel screeched, “for a guy who ain’t got a curve ball?”

There was no joking the afternoon in 1934 when Satchel and Dizzy traded scoreless innings at Wrigley Field in Hollywood, Calif. The art deco stadium, a replica of its famous namesake in Chicago, had compact dimensions that made it a home run hitter’s heaven. But not that day. The game lasted 13 innings, with Satchel’s squad eking out a 1-0 win. “The greatest pitchers’ battle I have ever seen,” remembered William Louis Veeck Jr., a 20-year-old college dropout who would become Satchel’s patron saint as owner of the Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Browns. “Even in those early days Satch had all kinds of different deliveries. He’d hesitate before he’d throw. He’d wiggle the fingers of his glove. He’d wind up three times. He’d get the hitters overanxious, then he’d get them mad, and by the time the ball was there at the plate to be swung at, he’d have them way off balance.”

The Dean-Paige barnstorming continued into 1945, long past Dizzy’s prime. Satchel won most matchups then, as he had from the first, in part because the batters backing him up were more likely to be first-stringers. To the end the games were about money as much as anything, which is why Satchel and Dizzy generally pitched three innings, the minimum needed to satisfy fans and earn paychecks of $1,000 or more. But there was passion too, enough that the police were needed to quell a melee at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field after Dizzy talked an umpire into reversing a base-running call for the Crawfords.

Baseball, not skin color, sparked that riot, yet race did help draw fans, and it is what marks the Dizzy-Satchel contests as landmarks in American sociology as well as sports. Dizzy’s redneck image gave resonance to a racial rivalry with Satchel that really was a rapprochement. Their barnstorming tour saw ballparks that normally walled off blacks let them sit where they wanted. It brought in white reporters along with white fans. And when good ol’ boy Dizzy Dean praised blackball legend Satchel Paige, followers of all hues pricked up their ears.

“A bunch of the fellows gets in a barber session the other day and they start to arguefy about whose the best pitcher they ever see, and some says Lefty Grove and Lefty Gomez and Walter Johnson and old Pete Alexander and Dazzy Vance,” Dizzy wrote in a news column in 1938. “I know whose the best pitcher I ever see and it’s old Satchel Page, the big lanky colored boy. Say, old Diz is pretty fast back in 1933 and 1934, and you know my fast ball looks like a change of pace alongside that little pistol bullet old Satchel shoots up to the plate….It’s too bad those colored boys don’t play in the big leagues, because they sure got some great players.” This was no social reformer weeping over missed opportunities. It was the most convincing endorsement Satchel had from a white player. It also was news, and was reprinted in papers across the country. Several years later Dizzy ratcheted up the hyperbole, arguing that “if Old Satchel and I played together, we’d clinch the pennant mathematically by the Fourth of July and go fishin’ until the World Series. Between us we’d win sixty games.”

If the thought of what they were missing was a frustration for white ballplayers like Dizzy, it was torture for blacks like Satchel. “People used to say how Diz and me were about as alike as two tadpoles,” he once said, “but Diz was in the majors and I was bouncing around the peanut circuit.” Satchel’s barnstorming games against Dean’s All-Stars proved that the best of the Negro Leaguers were the equals of their white major league counterparts. But in so doing—in raising the curtain of racial segregation for those few games—it reinforced what Satchel and his black teammates were being denied the rest of the year. Once the real season started, Dizzy and his teammates went back to Broadway. Satchel and his returned to the chitlin’ circuit.

Larry Tye, a former Boston Globe reporter, is the author of Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend.


Fifty-nine-year-old Satchel Paige pitches three innings

SGT (Join to see)

On September 25, 1965, 60 year old Satchel Paige of the Kansas City Athletics pitched 3 scoreless innings. From the article:

"Fifty-nine-year-old Satchel Paige pitches three innings
On September 25, 1965, the Kansas City Athletics start ageless wonder Satchel Paige in a game against the Boston Red Sox. The 59-year-old Paige, a Negro League legend, proved his greatness once again by giving up only one hit in his three innings of play.

Leroy Page was born on July 7, 1906, in Mobile, Alabama. Page’s family changed the spelling of their name to Paige to differentiate themselves from John Page, Leroy’s absent and abusive father. “Satchel” got his nickname as a boy while working as a luggage carrier at the Mobile train station. When he was 12, his constant truancy coupled with a shoplifting incident got him sent to the Industrial School for Negro Children in Mount Meigs, Alabama. It turned out to be a lucky break, as it was there that Paige learned to pitch. After leaving the school, he turned pro.

From 1927 to 1948 Paige served as the baseball equivalent of a hired gun: He pitched for any team in the United States or abroad that could afford him. He was the highest paid pitcher of his time, and he wowed crowds with the speed of his fastball, his trick pitches and his considerable bravado. Just for fun, Paige would sometimes call in his outfield and then strike out the side. From 1939 to 1942, the Kansas City Monarchs paid up for his services and were justly rewarded: Paige led the team to four consecutive Negro American League pennants from 1939 to 1942. In the 1942 Negro League World Series, Satchel won three games in a four-game sweep of the Homestead Grays, led by famed slugger Josh Gibson.

Paige’s contract was bought by Bill Veeck’s Cleveland Indians on July 7, 1948, his 42nd birthday. He made his major league debut two days later, entering in the fifth inning against the St. Louis Browns with the Indians trailing 4-1. He gave up two singles in two innings, striking one man out and inducing one batter to hit into a double play. The Indians lost the game 5-3 in spite of Paige’s contribution. That year Satchel Paige went 6-1 with a solid 2.48 ERA for the World Champion Cleveland Indians and was named to Major League Baseball’s All-Star Team for the American League in 1952 and 1953, when he was 46 and 47 years old respectively.

On September 25, 1965, Paige’s three innings for the Kansas City Athletics made him, at 59 years, 2 months and 18 days, the oldest pitcher ever to play a game in the major leagues. Before the game, Paige sat in the bullpen in a rocking chair while a nurse rubbed liniment into his pitching arm for the entire crowd to see. Any doubts about Paige’s ability were put to rest when he set down each of the Red Sox batters he faced except for Carl Yastremski, who hit a double.

Arguably the greatest pitcher of his era, Paige was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971. He died in 1982."

Fifty-nine-year-old Satchel Paige pitches three innings

BLACK DIAMONDS: AN ORAL HISTORY OF THE NEGRO LEAGUES, Program 1 of 6. Important figures in the world of Black baseball from 1920-1950 give their thoughts on .

Thank you my friend SGT (Join to see) for making us aware that September 25, 1965, 60 year old Leroy 'Satchel" Paige of the Kansas City Athletics pitched 3 scoreless innings.

Black Diamonds: Satchel Paige
BLACK DIAMONDS: AN ORAL HISTORY OF THE NEGRO LEAGUES, Program 1 of 6. Important figures in the world of Black baseball from 1920-1950 give their thoughts on the quality of play, barnstorming, prejudice and the white Major Leagues. The interviewer is Stephen Banker, and this program focuses on Satchel Paige (pictured above).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mK1iWx6JJ68

Images:
1. 1953 Topps card #220 Leroy Robert Satchell Paige - St Louis Browns
2. Cleveland Indians pitcher Satchel Paige resting
3. 1949 Bowman #224 Leroy Satchel Paige, Rookie Card, Cleveland Indians
4. Satchel Paige and Bob Feller, teammates on the 1948 World Series champion Cleveland Indians.

Biographies:
1. baseballhall.org/hall-of-famers/paige-satche
2. historicmissourians.shsmo.org/historicmissourians/name/p/paige

1. Background from <[https://baseballhall.org/hall-of-famers/paige-satchel]>
The numbers – at least the big league ones – do not do justice to his legend.
The stories, however, keep alive the memory of a man who became bigger than the game. Leroy “Satchel” Paige was bigger than mere numbers.
Apocryphal stories surround Paige, who was born July 7, 1906 in Mobile, Ala. He began his professional career in the Negro Leagues in the 1920s after being discharged from reform school in Alabama. The lanky 6-foot-3 right-hander quickly became the biggest drawing card in Negro baseball, able to overpower batters with a buggy-whipped fastball.
Paige, a showman at heart, bounced from team-to-team in search of the best paycheck – often pitching hundreds of games a year between regular Negro Leagues assignments and barnstorming opportunities. During the 1930s, Paige’s stints with Negro National League powerhouse Pittsburgh Crawfords were interrupted by seasons with teams in North Dakota and the Dominican Republic.
In the late 1930s, Paige developed arm problems for the first time. Kansas City Monarchs owner J.L. Wilkinson signed Paige to his “B” team, giving Paige time to heal. Within a year, Paige’s shoulder had recovered and his fastball returned. As he aged, the control he once used to dazzle fans now became his primary weapon as a pitcher.
“He could throw the ball right by your knees all day,” said Cool Papa Bell.
At the age of 42, Paige made his big league debut when Bill Veeck signed him to a contract with the Indians on July 7, 1948. Two days later, Paige made his debut for a Cleveland club involved in one of the tightest pennant races in American League history.
That summer and fall, Paige went 6-1 with three complete games and a save and a 2.48 earned-run average. Cleveland won the AL pennant in a one-game playoff against Boston, then captured the World Series title in six games against the Braves. Paige became the first African-American pitcher to pitch in the World Series when he worked two-thirds of an inning in Game 5.
Paige pitched for the Indians again in 1949, then spent three seasons with the St. Louis Browns from 1951-53, earning two All-Star Game selections. He then returned to life in the minors and barnstorming, resurfacing in the majors at the age of 59 in a one-game stint with the Athletics on Sept. 25, 1965. He pitched three shutout innings.
Paige was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1971 as the first electee of the Committee on Negro Baseball Leagues. He passed away on June 8, 1982.
“Age is a question of mind over matter,” Paige said. “If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

Introduction
Map of Missouri with Kansas City starred
Kansas City, Missouri
Satchel Paige was a famous African American baseball pitcher who helped break down racial barriers in professional sports. His incredible speed, skill, and showmanship made him a national baseball hero. He pitched in the Negro Leagues before joining the major leagues in 1948. In 1971 Paige became the first player from the Negro Leagues elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
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Early Years & Education
1910 Census1910 Census
Leroy “Satchel” Paige was born July 7, 1906, in Mobile, Alabama. He was the seventh child of twelve born to John and Lula Coleman Paige. Satchel’s father was a gardner and his mother worked as a domestic servant. Because John Paige was often unemployed, the family lived in poverty. In his autobiography, Paige remembered, “We played in the dirt because we didn’t have toys. We threw rocks. There wasn’t anything else to throw.”

Mobile, Alabama
As Satchel grew older, he helped support his family. He collected empty bottles for resale, delivered ice, and worked as a baggage porter at Mobile’s Louisville & Nashville’s rail depot.

On one occasion when Satchel was loaded down with bags, another porter told him, “You look like a walking satchel tree.” It was then, Satchel later recalled, “LeRoy Paige became no more and Satchel Paige took over.”

Satchel rarely attended school. Instead, he skipped class to play baseball and fish in Mobile Bay. Satchel soon developed a reputation as the best school-age pitcher in Mobile’s black section, but he could not stay out of trouble.

Alabama Reform School
In 1918 twelve-year-old Satchel was convicted of shoplifting and was sentenced to five years in the Alabama Reform School for Juvenile Negro Lawbreakers. Satchel attended class, worked on the school farm, joined the school choir, and became a member of the drum and bugle corps.

He honed his skills as a baseball player under the direction of Coach Edward Byrd. Coach Byrd showed Satchel how to use his physical skill and strength to become a powerful and proficient right-handed pitcher. Most importantly, Byrd taught Satchel that he could not depend on his physical talent alone—he would also have to outwit his opponents. By studying a batter’s stance, the placement of his feet, and the position of his bat, Satchel could determine the player’s weaknesses at the plate.

Satchel was paroled on December 31, 1923, with “an excellent record.” He later said, “Those five and a half years there did something for me—they made a man out of me. If I’d been left on the streets of Mobile to wander with those kids I’d been running around with, I’d of ended up as a big bum, a crook. You might say I traded five years of freedom to learn how to pitch.”

1935 Pittsburgh Crawfords
After baseball became segregated in 1889, blacks were prohibited from playing in the major leagues. In response, black baseball players formed their own semi-professional and professional baseball leagues that were collectively referred to as the “Negro Leagues.”
Paige returned home and joined the black semi-professional Mobile Tigers. It was then, he said, “I gave up kid’s baseball—baseball just for fun—and started baseball as a career.” At six foot three inches tall, the lanky right-handed pitcher quickly developed a reputation as a formidable opponent.

In 1924, playing for the Tigers, Paige won an estimated thirty games with only one loss. In 1926 he joined the professional Chattanooga Black Lookouts for two successful seasons. Paige then spent the next several years going from team to team in search of a more lucrative paycheck.

Among the Negro League teams he played for between 1927 and 1947 were the Birmingham Black Barons, Baltimore Black Sox, Cleveland Cubs, Pittsburgh Crawfords, Kansas City Monarchs, New York Black Yankees, and Memphis Red Sox.

Al Lopez Field
When not playing with a team, Paige and other black players formed freelance barnstorming teams that toured the country playing other teams in exhibition games to make extra money. Paige spent long hours on the road and rarely saw his wife when barnstorming across the country. Life on the road was not easy for black players and they regularly endured racist taunts from spectators. Due to segregation, they were not allowed to stay at hotels where whites lodged or dine at restaurants used by whites. Paige refused to play in towns where he could not get a hotel room or a meal.

Despite the prevailing racism of the era, Paige attracted white spectators with his dazzling pitching skills. He could throw a variety of pitches with accuracy and speed that few could match. He gave his pitches colorful names such as “jump ball, bee ball, screw ball, woobly ball, whipsy-dipsy-do, a hurry-up ball, a nothin’ ball, and a bat dodger.”

Paige used his arsenal of different pitches to confuse batters. He might sidearm the ball across the plate, follow with a fastball, and then throw his signature “hesitation pitch” in which he would hesitate during his wind-up, often messing up the batter’s timing.

Kansas City Monarchs
In 1938, while playing baseball in Mexico, Paige injured his pitching arm. At the age of thirty-two, he feared his career was over. J.L. Wilkinson, owner of the Kansas City Monarchs, signed Paige to play first base for his second-string team, the Kansas City Travelers. Although many believed his days on the pitcher’s mound were finished, Paige miraculously recovered the following year, and joined the Kansas City Monarchs.

Family Life
On October 26, 1934, Paige married Janet Howard. He married Lucy “Luz” Maria Figueroa in 1940 while playing ball in Puerto Rico. Because he had not divorced his first wife, Paige’s marriage to Figueroa was not legal. He divorced his first wife in 1943. Paige later married Lahoma Brown and together the couple had seven children.

In 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play major league baseball in the twentieth century. In his autobiography, Paige declared, “I’d been the guy who’d started all that big talk about letting us in the big time. I’d been the one who’d opened up the major league parks to colored teams. I’d been the one who the white boys wanted to barnstorm against…It still was me that ought to have been first.” Paige, at age forty-one, was viewed by many to be too old to play in the major leagues.
One year after Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, Paige signed with the Cleveland Indians. At forty-two years old, he was the oldest rookie to play in the major leagues. Paige’s pitching helped the Cleveland Indians beat the Boston Braves to win the 1948 World Series. He was the first African American athlete to play in a World Series.

Paige stayed with the Indians for one more season and then played for the St. Louis Browns for three years. He played his final season in the major leagues in 1965 with the Kansas City Athletics. In order to qualify for his Major League Baseball pension, Paige briefly joined the Atlanta Braves in 1968 as a pitching coach.
In 1971 Paige became the first player from the Negro Leagues elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Death & Legacy
LeRoy “Satchel” Paige died of a heart attack on June 8, 1982, in Kansas City, Missouri. He is buried in Forest Hill Memorial Park Cemetery in Kansas City, Missouri.
Because much of his forty-three year career was spent in the Negro Leagues where record keeping was spotty, it is difficult to document Satchel Paige’s lifetime career statistics. It is clear, however, that Paige won the respect of his peers—both white and black—during his time in baseball. Today he is widely recognized as one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history.
Legendary Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams claimed, “Paige was the greatest pitcher in baseball.” Famed New York Yankee Joe DiMaggio said Satchel Paige was the “best and fastest pitcher I’ve ever faced.” Celebrated St. Louis Cardinal pitcher Dizzy Dean remarked, “He’s a better pitcher than I ever hope to be.” Homestead Grays first baseman and Hall of Famer Buck Leonard declared, “He threw fire.”
Paige’s showmanship, athleticism, and personality attracted both white and black audiences. He proved that black athletes could compete with and beat their white counterparts, helping pave the way for fellow African Americans to join Major League Baseball.

Text and research by Kimberly Harper

References and Resources
For more information about Satchel Paige's life and career, see the following resources:
Society Resources
The following is a selected list of books, articles, and manuscripts about Satchel Paige in the research centers of The State Historical Society of Missouri. The Society’s call numbers follow the citations in brackets. All links will open in a new tab.

 Articles from the Newspaper Collection
 “A Giant is Returned to Earth.” Kansas City Star. June 13, 1982. pp. A1, A18.
 “The Life and Times of Satchel Paige.” Kansas City Times. June 9, 1982. pp. D1-2.
 “We Lost Satchel.” Kansas City Star. June 9, 1982. pp. A1, A12.
 Books and Articles
 Bruce, Janet. The Kansas City Monarchs: Champions of Black Baseball. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1985. [REF H128.131 B83]
 Christensen, Lawrence O., William E. Foley, Gary R. Kremer, and Kenneth H. Winn, eds. Dictionary of Missouri Biography. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1999. pp. 591-593. [REF F508 D561]
 Heapy, Leslie A., ed. Satchel Paige and Company: Essays on the Kansas City Monarchs, Their Greatest Star, and the Negro Leagues. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2007. [REF F508.1 P152he]
 Holway, John B. Josh and Satch: The Life and Times of Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1992.[REF F508.1 P152ho 1992]
 Paige, Satchel. Maybe I’ll Pitch Forever. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1993. [REF F508.1 P 152 1993]
 Shirley, David. Satchel Paige. New York: Chelsea House, 1993. [REF F508.1 P152sh]
 Spivey, Donald. “If You Were Only White”: The Life of Leroy “Satchel” Paige. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2012. [REF F508.1 P152sp]
 Tye, Larry. Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend. New York: Random House, 2009. [REF F508.1 P152t]

Manuscript Collection
 Kansas City Monarchs Oral History Collection, 1978-1981 (KC0047)
The Kansas City Monarchs baseball team was a charter member of the Negro National League which was established in 1920. The Monarchs were active from 1920 until the integration of baseball in the 1950’s. In 1978 Janet Bruce and Catherine T. Rocha applied for and received a grant from the Friends of the Library at the University of Missouri-Kansas City to conduct a series of oral history interviews with surviving members of the Kansas City Monarchs.

In addition to the oral history interviews on cassette tapes, the collection includes correspondence and reports related to grants which Janet Bruce and Catherine T. Rocha held while gathering their eighteen interviews with persons who played with or were associated with the Kansas City Monarchs."


Satchel Paige

"You win a few, you lose a few, the rest get rained out."
"Ain't no man can avoid bein' born average, but there ain't no man got to be common."
"Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watchin'."
- Satchel Paige Satchel Paige was a montage, a crazy quilt, a collage of the Negro Leagues, an enigma, a wonder of science. Yes, Leroy "Satchel" Paige was all of those — and more. The early years It is entirely fitting that Satchel Paige's birthdate is estimated to be July 7, 1905 — the date his mother put in the family Bible. Except that Lula Paige says, "I can't rightly recall whether Leroy was my first-born or my 15th" — she bore 12 children, including a set of twins. On one visit with a sportswriter, she confided that her son was actually three years older than he thought he was. A few years later, she amended that comment to say he was just two years older than he thought. "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?" Satchel would later ask. Page (spelled as such until the late 1920s) was born into poverty in a Mobile, Alabama, slum known as South Bay. At an early age, he and friend Wilber Hines earned pocket money by going down to the Louisville & Nashville Railroad station to carry luggage for passengers. When Page got caught trying to steal one of the satchels, Hines immediately saddled him with the nickname. At age 12, Satchel was sent to reform school for shoplifting. There he learned a little about pitching a baseball. "Swing your front leg high and let the ball fly at the last possible instant," one mentor told him. At age 17, Satchel was released. He soon signed on to play with the local semi-pro team, the Mobile Tigers, where his brother, Wilson, was already playing. As it happened, two future Negro League stars, Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe and Bobby Robinson, also were with the team. The Negro Leagues — early on Paige was discovered by Alex Herman, player/manager of the Chattanooga Black Lookouts of the Negro Southern League, and former friend from the slums. Herman wanted to sign Satchel for $50 a month, but that was not about to happen until momma Lula exacted a stipend out of the paycheck. Like many rookies, Paige was brought along slowly, being utilized sparingly in certain situations. Then in June 1926, he got the start against the Albany Giants, when he promptly gave up 13 runs in the loss. During the season, however, Paige got stronger, thanks to the "hesitation pitch" taught to him by a teammate, Bill "Plunk" Drake. According to the nature of the Negro Leagues of the times, players often "followed the money," playing wherever and for whomever was paying the most. In 1927, for instance, Paige was given a raise to $200 a month and a Ford Model A roadster to continue playing for the Lookouts. After just a few games, Paige pulled up stakes to play for the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro National league for $276 a month. As a budding star pitcher — at an imposing 6Ɗ", 180 pounds — and showman, Paige had an undistinguished early career. He was a standout strikeout pitcher averaging almost one per inning pitched. But his ERA and won-loss records were a reflection of his penchant to be wild for stretches at a time. In a game against Cool Papa Bell's All Stars, Paige plunked three hitters on the head in a row, nearly setting off a bench-clearing brawl. In 1928 and 1929, Paige's record was only 23-25, but he set a single-season strikeout record of 184 in 1929, including a single-game record of 17 against the Detroit Stars. Paige's drawing power grew with his strikeout prowess, allowing him to be "rented out" between his normal starts to other clubs in need of a good attendance figure. Paige received a percentage of the gate. To Cuba and back In 1930, Paige was offered $100 a game to join Cuban legend and future Major League Hall of Famer Martin Dihigo, on the Santa Clara team. Owing to the popularity of gambling on the games by the public, no drinking or late-night carousing was allowed. That policy, plus the "strange" food, didn't exactly excite Paige. Following 11 games, he packed his bags and headed for the mainland, where he hooked up with Jackson and renewed Paige's "have arm, will travel" philosophy. The defending American Negro League champs, Baltimore Black Sox, leased Paige for a time. Ironically, Paige was looked upon as a "southern hick," a kind of intraracial prejudice. Making Paige the number-two guy in the rotation didn't sit well with him, either. 1932 In the throes of the Great Depression, Gus Greenlee, who purportedly had connections to the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, underworld, offered Paige $250 a month to finish out the 1931 season. He finished it in style against crosstown rival Homestead Grays. Paige, in relief, pitched the final five innings of the game, striking out six with no walks. In 1932, Greenlee "stole" future Hall of Famers Josh Gibson Oscar Charleston, who would be the player/manager of the club and Radclife, from the Grays, to join Paige, Hall-of-Famer Judy Johnson, Jud Wilson, and Rap Dixon. That collection of talent was known as the "Yankees of Black Baseball," not to be confused with the New York Black Yankees, also in the same league. By the end of the season, Greenlee also had Bell, John Henry Russell, Leroy Matlock, Jake Stephens, "Boojum" Wilson, Jimmie Crutchfield, and Ted Page under contract. In all, five future Hall of Famers were included on the roster, which finished the ཛྷ season at 98-32. Some observers wondered if they just lost concentration 32 times that season. Barnstorming in the Thirties The early- to mid-1930s, and even into the early 1940s, "barnstorming"* often was more important than the regular season. Blacks had a chance to show their talent, often beating white Major Leaguers and leaving them shaking their heads, wondering why those Negro Leaguers were not allowed to compete at the "ultimate level." After playing against Paige, Dizzy Dean, with his group of All Stars, called him the pitcher with the best stuff he'd ever seen. In various venues Paige also faced the likes of Joe Dimaggio, Rogers Hornsby, Jimmie Foxx, and Ted Williams. It was Williams, when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1966, who encouraged, even chided, Major League Baseball to find a way to include worthy Negro Leaguers in the Hall. That seed of an idea came to fruition in 1971, when Satchel Paige became the first player from the Negro Leagues to be inducted into the mainstream Hall of Fame. Among the eye-popping statistics and miscellany:

Bill Veeck, as in "wreck" Bill Veeck was one of baseball's most forward-thinking, innovative individuals. He had several gigs as owner/general manager around the league which produced: the now-famous landmark ivy that still climbs the brick walls of hallowed Wrigley Field in Chicago (1937) he signed Larry Doby, the first black player in the American League (1947) he signed and played Eddie Gaedel, the 3ƍ" midget (1951) he introduced road uniforms for the White Sox featuring the player's last name above the number (March 1960) and he was the driving force behind the "exploding scoreboard" of Comiskey Park in Chicago (June 1960). Veeck and Satchel Paige were destined to cross paths several times during Major League Baseball's awkward attempts to integrate the game. When Veeck signed Paige to a major league contract with the Cleveland Indians in July 1948, the howling and naysaying could be heard to the shores of the Atlantic. At age 42, Paige would become the second black player in the American League and the oldest player ever to debut in the majors. That signing was ridiculed as another publicity stunt, "Veeck has gone too far in his quest for publicity . . .To sign a pitcher at Paige's age is to demean the standards of baseball . . .." (The Sporting News) Paige debunked the critics by earning a win in relief in his first appearance in the Major Leagues, and then went on to a 6-1 season record, including two shutouts, and an ERA of 2.48 with 45 strikeouts, to help the Indians to the American League pennant. The "repetoire" Not only did Paige, in his prime, possess a dominating fastball, but he sported a variety of other servings, most notably his "Hesitation Pitch," which worked with the effect of a changeup. Paige was legendary when it came to the number of different pitches he could throw in any situation and at any count on the batter. Among them were the "Bat Dodger," "Hurry-Up Ball," "Midnight Creeper," "Four-Day Rider," a pitch he called "Nothin'," the "Ball Bee Ball," "Jump Ball," "Trouble Ball," the "Two-Hump Blooper," "Long Tom," and the "Barber." "I use my single windup, my double windup, my triple windup, my hesitation windup, my no windup. I also use my step-n-pitch-it, my submariner, my sidearmer, and my bat dodger. [A] man's got to do what he's got to do," he averred. Jack Brickhouse, immortal broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs, once said half-chuckling, Paige "threw a lot of pitches that were not quite 'legal' and not quite 'illegal.'" "I never threw an illegal pitch. Trouble is, once in awhile I would toss one that ain't never been seen by this generation." (Satchel Paige) Satchel's life remembered Paige had a couple of films made about his remarkable life, including Don't Look Back (1981), starring Lou Gossett Jr., and a 1996 portrayal of life in the Negro Leagues, Soul of the Game. In addition, Paige is lovingly cast as a warm and caring dog named "Satchel Pooch," in the comic strip Get Fuzzy. Paige also was honored by The Sporting News, which listed him as the 19th greatest baseball player of all time. "Satchelisms" As competitive and as restless as Paige was, he always had a reputation for entertaining a crowd. Sometimes, without even thinking about it, Paige came up with some of the darndest aphorisms:


Watch the video: Cobb and Dimaggio extend hitting streaks, and Hubbel and Marichal pitch historic games on July 2nd