Can you imagine swimming upstream, facing a double current
Of age and racism? It takes a special person to come out ahead.
A rookie at age 42? A black man in a turbulent environment,
Letting his pitching skills change minds and hearts one year
After Jackie broke down the insidious wall of racism in America’s game.
A man who helped lead Cleveland to the crown in 1948, who
Beat the Chisox 1-0 before 78,382 screaming fans (largest crowd ever),
The first black pitcher in the Junior Circuit thriving in a so-close
Pennant race — it took a special man. It took Leroy “Satchel” Paige.
He went 6 – 1 that year, as Cleveland beat the Red Sox in a one-game playoff.
Paige then became the first of his race to pitch in a World Series game,
Part of a team that beat the Boston Braves and won the title.
No surprise he was named Rookie of the Year by the Sporting News.
But that was not the start or even end of this man’s story. Before
He was the first black Hall of Famer, he was staring in the Negro Leagues
With his “Long Tom” fastball and so many other pitches that he named:
“Bat Dodger,” Thoughtful Stuff” and his favorite “Bee Ball”
That buzzed like a bee past all those bats . . . and when he aged and
When his speed deserted him, he still could fool batters with his “Midnight Creeper,”
“Wobbly Ball,” “Whipsy-Dipsy-Do” and his most renowned “Hesitation Pitch,”
bringing him hundreds (some say thousands) of victories, including an exhibition game
Early in his career when, before baseball integration, he faced white Major Leaguers
And struck out 21 of them! He should never be forgotten. He was loved, respected.
The great Di Maggio said he was “the best I’ve ever faced and the fastest.”
It took too long but in the end the Majors got it right. Men are men,
And Satchel did his share, made his point, and never looked back.