Posts Tagged ‘Leroy Satchel Paige’
Now that we’ve honored the birth of our country with fireworks, hot dogs and endless car and mattress TV commercials, it is time to celebrate another national institution: baseball great Satchel Paige!
The exact date of Leroy Robert Paige’s birth is unknown, but it is believed to be July 7, 1906. Leroy was the 6th of 12 children born to a gardener and a domestic worker in Mobile, Alabama. He reportedly got his nickname working as a baggage porter where he was known for being able to carry many satchels at once. He was sent to reform school for truancy, shoplifting and throwing rocks, and it was there that he switched from tossing rocks to throwing baseballs.
Jackie Robinson broke the race barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947, but Satchel Paige became the first African-American to pitch in a World Series Game. In 1948, Cleveland Indians owner Bill Veeck needed a pitcher for a very tight American League pennant race, so he signed Paige. At the age of 42, Satchel Paige became professional baseball’s oldest “rookie.” He helped the Indians win the AL pennant and the World Series in that same year.
Paige spent most of his career barnstorming in the Negro Leagues. One downside of all this travel and team-jumping was a lack of accurate record-keeping, but it is believed that Paige threw more pitches for more fans in more places – and for more seasons – than any other pitcher in any professional baseball league. Just some of his accomplishments: 64 consecutive scoreless innings; 21 straight wins; a 31-4 record in 1933; and, the last time he took the mound in 1965 at the age of 60, he threw 3 shutout innings.
Joe DiMaggio said Paige was “the best and fastest pitcher I’ve ever faced,” and Dizzy Dean claimed that if “Satch and I were pitching on the same team, we’d clinch the pennant by the 4th of July and go fishing until the World Series.”
After a career that lasted for 5 decades, Satchel Paige was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971. His Plaque in the Hall reads: “Paige was one of the greatest stars to play in the Negro Leagues…His pitching was a legend among Major League hitters.”