Leroy Robert “Satchel” Paige was born circa July 7, 1906, in Mobile, Alabama, and honed his pitching abilities in reform school. Refused entry to the Major Leagues, he started his professional baseball career in the Negro Leagues in 1926 and became its most renowned showman. Paige eventually broke through to the Majors as a 42-year old rookie, and was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971. He expired on June 8, 1982. He was the seventh of 12 children born to father John, a gardener, and mom Lula, a washerwoman. It absolutely was Lula who added the “i” to their surname not long before Paige was to begin his illustrious career; he maintained that she altered it to sound “high-tone.”
According to Paige, his mom sent him to make money taking bag for businessmen in the train station, however he was frustrated with all the pittance it paid. So he rigged a post to take several bags at the same time to get the occupation pay better, and his coworkers purportedly told him, “You appear to be a walking satchel tree”; therefore his unique nickname.
A run in with all the law, through petty theft and truancy, got Paige “registered” in reform school at age 12. His baseball ability, coupled with large hands and feet on his long, lanky frame—he’d grow to 6’4″—were understood by trainer Edward Byrd as assets that could be developed. Paige afterwards said, “You could say I dealt five years of independence to find out the best way to toss.”
With African American players barred in the Major Leagues, Paige started his professional career in 1926 in the Negro Southern League. His record together with the Chattanooga Black Barons failed to go undetected and he went swiftly through the positions of the Negro National League teams, becoming a favorite draw among crowds.
Between contracts, Paige assembled quite a following through barnstorming tours, which consisted of exhibition games against other professionals and regional talent that supplied additional cash. In one match, he was hired to front a team called the “Satchel Paige All Stars” and ended up pitching to New York Yankees great Joe DiMaggio, who called him “the greatest and fastest pitcher I Have ever faced.” Paige additionally once pitted St. Louis Cardinals ace Dizzy Dean in a series of exhibition games, winning four of them. Later, Dean noted, “If Satch and I were tossing to the exact same team, we had clinch the pennant by the fourth of July and go fishing until World Series time.”
One drawback to all this traveling and team-jump was a dearth of data, since even in official Negro League matches, there may be a dearth of statisticians or record keepers. According to some reports, Paige compiled 31 wins against only four losses in 1933, as well as collected runs of 64 consecutive scoreless innings and 21 straight victories. In 1948, Paige’s wish came true. Using the big league color barrier broken by Jackie Robinson as well as the Cleveland Indians needing extra pitching, owner Bill Veeck gave the expert Negro League star a tryout. Veeck apparently put a smoke on the floor and told Paige to consider it as home plate; the hurler subsequently threw five fastballs, all but one sailing directly within the smoke.
Bringing enormous crowds when he pitched, Paige went 6-1 with the excellent 2.48 ERA in half of a season, helping the Indians win the World Series. He pitched one more season with Cleveland, subsequently played for three years using the St. Louis Browns. Despite his age, Paige continued to tour frequently for significant look fees. He completed his big league career having a 28-31 record, 32 saves and a 3.29 ERA.
One of baseball’s most well-known players of any colour, Paige lived the kind of life by which myth became hard to distinguish from truth. As stated by the narratives, he was once served divorce papers with a wife as he walked out to the mound at Wrigley Field, and another time tossed for Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo’s team to determine the results of an election. However, the reports of his unparalleled gifts were probably accurate; Paige was famous for his hard fastballs and his signature “reluctance” pitch, however he could do anything together with the ball which he needed. Despite his incredible longevity, Paige seldom addressed the problem of his age, frequently quoting Mark Twain: “Age is a question of mind over matter. If you do not mind, it does not matter.”