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Satchel Paige and Bob Feller

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Satchel Paige and Jackie Robinson

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Mickey Mantle, Allie Reynolds, Dom DiMaggio and Satchel Paige

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Hank Aaron, Satchel Paige, Ralph Garr

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Satchel Paige Hall of Fame Plaque, August, 1971

About Satchel Paige

Leroy Robert “Satchel “Paige (July 7, 1906 – June 8, 1982) born in Mobile, AL.

 

Satchel Paige was the seventh of twelve children born to a gardener and a domestic worker. Early in his childhood, his mother became what we call today, a single parent.  At the age of twelve he was sentenced to five years attendance at the Industrial School for Negro Children in Mount Meigs, Alabama, for stealing and for truancy.  It was there he learned the value of an education and the game of baseball.  After his release, despite what would seem insurmountable obstacles, he continued to demonstrate his athletic prowess and determination to become one of the greatest baseball pitchers of all time.  Paige finally broke through to the Majors at age 42 and became Rookie of the Year.  A baseball career that spanned four decades and culminated with his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971.

He got the nickname “Satchel” as a boy working as a luggage carrier at the train station in Mobile, AL.   He began his professional baseball career in the Negro Leagues in 1926 with the Chattanooga Black Barons and became the Negro Leagues most popular player.

 

1934 Married:  Janet  Howard in Pittsburg

1946 Married: LaHoma Jean Brown; in Kansas City, Missouri; seven children.

 

At the age of 12 he was sentenced to six years or his eighteenth birthday, whichever came first, to the Alabama Reform School for Juvenile Negro Law Breakers for shoplifting trinkets from store. There he learned to pitch a baseball.

 

The consummate showman of the Negro Leagues. The celebrity of Satchel Paige made Negro League ball players, by and large, more recognized in society and his stardom got people to notice the separation that existed between a black league and a white league. His civil rights stands were taken in the 20's, 30's and 40's, when such things often meant death.   

 

Satchel Paige personified black baseball to blacks and whites.  His explosive fastball, athletic ability, perfect control and showmanship guaranteed large crowds wherever he pitched and made him a legend.  He earned the respect of sportswriters, owners, fans and baseball players. Joe DiMaggio called him, “The best I’ve ever faced and the fastest.”  The Biographical Encyclopedia states Satchel Paige had an estimated 300 career shutouts; an estimated 2000 or more wins; 64 straight scoreless innings; 21 straight wins; and a 31-4 record in 1933.  He never committed an error in 179 Major League games. 

 

He was the American League’s first African-American pitcher.  In 1948, his first appearance on the mound for the Cleveland Indians brought a ten-minute ovation from major league fans eager to see for themselves, the great Satchel Paige.  More than 200,000 came to see his first three starts in the majors, including a Cleveland record for a single game at night of 78,382, the record still stands. He went on to help the Indians win the American League pennant and the World Series. 

 

According to The New York Times Book of Sports Legends, during his career he performed before crowds estimated at 10 million in the U.S., Caribbean and Central America.

In many respects Satchel Paige was to Negro League baseball what Babe Ruth was to the majors -- a rare combination of talent and personality that captured the imagination of fans across America. Paige's unique brand of showmanship combined with his remarkable skills on the mound to fill ballparks everywhere and keep the fans coming through the turnstiles through even the darkest days of the Great Depression. So great was the drawing power of Satchel Paige that he was often "loaned" to struggling teams who needed a quick boost in attendance to stay afloat.

The widely traveled Paige began his career with the Chattanooga Black Lookouts in the Negro Southern League in 1926. After passing through Birmingham and Nashville, 1932 found him on the roster of the Pittsburgh Crawfords. His legendary performances with the Crawfords, which often included gawdy 30+ win seasons, established him firmly as black baseball's premier pitcher. Simultaneously, his folksy humor and ability to "spin a yarn" made him the darling of black sportswriters, establishing him as black baseball's premier personality.

Though records are incomplete, Paige is often credited with having recorded more than 300 career shutouts -- not wins, shutouts! His career win total is estimated at well over 1500 games, a figure which includes virtually countless appearances in exhibition games against all levels of competition both in the United States and south of the border.

In 1939 Paige began a nine-year stint with the Kansas City Monarchs. In this era of his long career, he led the Monarchs to four consecutive Negro American League pennants and a Negro World Series championship in 1942. During 1940s Paige also managed to bring himself to the attention of white baseball fans all across America with his legendary exhibition tours pitting Negro League All-Stars against major league competition such as the Bob Feller All-Stars.

At the age of 42 Paige become the oldest rookie in major league history when he joined the Cleveland Indians during the 1948 pennant race. Joining the team late in the year Satchel posted a 6-1 record to help the Indians clinch the American League title and proceed to the World Series. As the "Nifty 50s" came around, Satchel was again in the major leagues with the St. Louis Browns. In 1952-53 he represented the Browns in the major league All-Star game.

His legendary career spans four decades. He was the first Negro League player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, in 1971.  After his death, he was nominated to the “All Century Team” by Major League Baseball as one of the greatest players of the century and selected to the “50 Legends of Baseball” by the U. S. Postal Service.  On July 28, 2006, as a tribute to the contribution Negro league players made to baseball, a statue of Satchel Paige was unveiled at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

 

May 31, 1942 - Before 22,000 at Griffith Stadium, Satchel Paige pitches five innings to defeat the Dizzy Dean All-Stars 8-1. Dean pitches just the first inning. The game a week earlier, in which Paige won 3-1 at Wrigley Field, drew 29,000. Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis will prohibit a scheduled July 4 matchup because the first two games outdrew major-league games.

 

Began his baseball career playing for the semi-professional team: Negro League:  Semi-professional team Mobile Tigers; Negro League :Professional baseball teams played for:  Chattanooga White Sox; New Orleans Black Pelicans; Birmingham Black Barons; Santa Clara Leopards; Baltimore Black Sox; Nashville Elite Giants; Cleveland Cubs; Pittsburg Crawford; Kansas City Monarchs; Trujillo All Stars; New York Black Yankees; Memphis Red Sox; Philadelphia Stars; Dominican League; Mexican League, Cuban League; California Winter League, Mexican League; Puerto Rican Winter League. Major League: Cleveland Indians; St. Louis Browns; Kansas City Athletics.

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