"Satchel Paige was the best and fastest pitcher I've ever faced." -Joe DiMaggio
|Leroy Robert "Satchel" Paige was born in Mobile, Alabama on July 7, 1906. The man often called the "catalyst for integration" started his career as a pitcher while playing for the Mobile Tigers in 1924. That position on that semipro team would prove to be the launching pad for one of the most successful careers in baseball history.
|His career spanned several decades, lasting from 1924 until he took the mound for the last time as a professional in 1965, playing for the Kansas City Athletics. Soon, though, after his start in Mobile, Satchel went on to shine in the Negro Leagues. He was popular not only for his amazing talents, but his showmanship and style. Satchel was playing at a time when white owners, especially in the South, were eager to draw more white fans to the Negro League games. In order to do so, they drew upon the success of black minstrelry in vaudeville shows. They decided to duplicate that success with a combination of baseball and comedy. Satchel developed a signature style of talent, comedy, and confidence. He made his success look effortless; his popularity drew thousands of fans, black and white, and made the Negro League famous.
Paige with his barnstorming plane
Satchel was known to send all of his outfielders
down to the dugout as he faced the league's biggest powerhitters, and
struck them out effortlessly. Such antics were typical of Satchel's playing,
and were what drew people's attention. He enjoyed great success in the
Negro Leagues; his most successful years were probably with the Pittsburgh
Crawfords. He played with the Crawfords from
1931-1936, and had a 31-4 record in 1932-33. Years playing in the Dominican
Republic and Mexico in the 1930s, and his years as the leader of a barnstorming
team broke up his time in the Negro Leagues. He returned to the Negro
Leagues in 1939 when he joined the Kansas City Monarchs. Satchel led the
Monarchs to numerous League pennants, and he himself enjoyed great success
in league All-Star games.
Satchel Paige was finally inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971; he was the first inductee elected from the Negro Leagues. Satchel's great abilities and showmanship carried the black player out of segregation into the national limelight.