Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Satchel: A Page in The History Book

Denied the opportunity to play baseball because of segregation, Satchel Paige had to wait a long time before he got his chance to play in the big leagues. Paige started his baseball career with the Negro League at the age of 20.  Unbelievably 22 years later, at age 42 he became the oldest rookie to play in a Major League Baseball game. It was as a member of the Cleveland Indians.
Before he played against  what was considered the highest level of competition in baseball, he was a star in the Negro League. Among the teams he played for were, the Chattanooga Black Lookouts, the Birmingham Black Barons and the Kansas City Monarchs.

His antics on the field made him very popular. As a showman, he often played to the crowd, amusing them while he pitched. As a pitcher, he baffled opposing batters. One player said that when Paige’s ball crossed the plate it looked like a marble.

Paige was considered by some of baseball greatest players as the greatest pitcher to ever play the game.  Joe DiMaggio said that he was the best pitcher he ever faced and Bob Feller said that Paige was the best pitcher he ever saw. Even the legendary St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Dizzy Dean said that Paige’s fastball made his own fastball look like a slow change-up.

Unable to compete in his prime against white players (outside of exhibitions games) he was hurt that he was kept out of Major League Baseball for so long. By the time he could compete, because of his age, the playing field was no longer level. He played nearly 20 years after his debut in the Major Leagues, pitching his last game in organized baseball at the age of 60. For what he accomplished, becoming the second player from the Negro League to play in the World Series and the first one elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, he became a Paige in the history book. The story of Satchel Paige, and other Negro League players such as Jackie Robinson and Josh Gibson are recounted in the HBO movie Soul of the Game.  


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