HAPPY 100th BIRTHDAY, SATCHEL!
The Wit, Wisdom, and World of Leroy “Satchel” Paige
by David Sterry and Arielle Eckstut
Who was the highest paid athlete in America in 1945? Which baseball player is credited with 300 shutouts, 55 no-hitters, and 64 consecutive scoreless innings? Which pitcher won three games on the very same day? Hall of Famer Leroy “Satchel” Paige is known for these memorable milestones, but perhaps more important, he is remembered for being one of the great philosophers of the twentieth century. Satchel Sez (Three Rivers Press, May 2001) is a tribute to this classic American folk philosopher in the grand tradition of Will Rogers, Mark Twain and Yogi Berra. From his days as the biggest star of the Negro Leagues to his extraordinary performances in the majors, Satchel Sez chronicles the amazing life and times of this write-your-own-rules hero who had a panache all his own, both on and off the field.
“Just take the ball and throw it where you want to. Home plate don’t move.”
After a quarter century of unparalleled brilliance in the Negro Leagues, Paige finally made it to the Cleveland Indians in 1948. At the age of 47 (or 40, or 42, or 44, depending on what day you asked), Satchel was the oldest rookie ever to grace the Major Leagues. When The Sporting News named him “Rookie of the Year,” the forty-something Paige declined the position because, as he put it, “I wasn’t sure what year the gentlemen had in mind.” Once with the Indians, Satchel played to thunderous standing ovations all across the nation, setting the attendance record for night games at 78,382 and inspiring Americans of every age, class and color.
“Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”
Unfortunately, fame did not protect Paige from the cruelty of racism. Though Satchel was a man of remarkable humor and deep intelligence, he was more often than not portrayed
as a simpleton, or worse yet, baseball’s Stepin Fetchit. Satchel earnestly voiced his frustration with the racism he encountered. As he so poignantly said, “Baseball has turned me from a second-class citizen to a second-class immortal.”
“I never had a job. I just played baseball.”
Satchel’s witty quips and savvy observations—on everything from health to wealth, from race relations to baseball—are an enduring part of American mythology. Satchel Sez is a fact-packed, fun-filled collection of quotes, stories (from Willie Mays, Buck O’Neil, and many others), statistics, vintage newspaper articles, photos, and memorabilia of Leroy “Satchel” Paige. What better to way to celebrate the first–of many–of Paige’s centennial birthdays than with this definitive collection?!
“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old were?”