Satchel Paige

By Lontay Greene

 

fameJust because you are the greatest to ever do something, doesn’t mean that you will always have the chance to show everyone that you are the greatest to ever do it. Leroy Robert “Satchel” Paige became the oldest rookie of his time when he entered the Major League Baseball team named the Cleveland Indians in the year of 1948. His late entrance into the Major Leagues was never a question of talent, but as halted by the breaking of the color barrier that refused to allow men of color to enter the Major Leagues. Well before he ever stepped foot on an MLB mound, he was already regarded as one of the best pitchers of all time amongst his experience in the Negro Leagues. He played for a variety of teams in the Negro leagues including his most famous landing spots being the Birmingham Black Barons, the Pittsburgh Crawfords, and the Kansas City Monarchs. Being from Mobile Alabama, it is astonishing that he would ever have the opportunity to travel abroad to so many different places playing baseball that stem much further than the few listed. He had stints in a myriad of places that even stretched overseas at times, and always going wherever the salary would be better suited.

baseballHe was a nomad of an individual but a model of consistent excellence inside atop of the pitcher’s mound. His highlights of his career would include brandishing a sixty-four-inning scoreless streak, twenty-one consecutive wins, and an unheard of record of thirty-one wins and only four losses. He was an otherworldly level ballplayer that stretched his career until he was practically half a century old, that was unofficially claimed after his official documentation was lost earlier in his life. Leroy Robert Satchel Paige does not have the name power or notoriety as players such as Willie Mays and Jackie Robinson when you are discussing the color divide in baseball but unarguable deserves to be in that conversation. Paige was only the seventh African American player to enter the Major Leagues after Jackie Robinson led the charge, but had little time leaving his mark.

He “only” pitched a sub 2.5 ERA(earned run average) at the prime age of forty-two years of age while ,absurdly, being considered an option for winning Rookie of the Year after having already played for a few decades in the Negro Leagues. His numbers in the Negro Leagues alone should put him amongst the shrine of greats in the baseball history books, along with his stellar performance at the tail end of his career to show his prowess even when he was well past his prime. In 1971, just eleven years before his death, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame to become the first African American pitcher to do so.

Everyone that is great do not always live to experience their greatness being honored, but even though he was not as appreciated as much during his career he ultimately got to see the fruits of his labor gain respect, notoriety and ultimately blossom.

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