Satchel Paige


Satchel Paige : biography

July 7, 1906 – June 8, 1982


Paige was the West’s starting pitcher in the 1943 East-West All-Star Game, played before a record 51,723 fans in Comiskey Park. He pitched three scoreless innings without giving up a hit, struck out four, walked one, and was credited as the winning pitcher in the West’s 2–1 victory. As a batter, he hit a double to lead off the bottom of the third, then was lifted for a pitch runner to "thunderous applause."

In the midst of World War II, by 1943 many Negro league players were leaving baseball for the military. Among Paige’s Kansas City teammates, Connie Johnson, Buck O’Neil, and Ted Strong entered military service that year, and Willard Brown followed them the following season.Holway 2001, p. 404. Paige’s Selective Service records show that during the war his draft status evolved from 1-A (available to be drafted) to 2-A ("deferred in support of national health, safety, or interest") to the final 4-A (too old for service, even though when he registered he gave a birth date of 1908, two years younger than his actual birth date).Tye 2009, p. 179. Paige continued to play, and the available statistics show a slip in performance in 1943, with a 6–8 record and a 4.59 run average (his highest average since 1929) reported for the Monarchs. The Monarchs’ string of four straight pennants ended, as the Negro American League title was captured by the Birmingham Black Barons in 1943 and 1944 and by the Cleveland Buckeyes in 1945.Clark and Lester 1994, p. 165.

Before the 1944 East-West All-Star Game—black baseball’s most lucrative event—Paige grabbed headlines when he demanded that the owners contribute the receipts to the war relief fund, threatening a player strike if they did not accede. The owners were able to turn the other players and fans against Paige, however, when they revealed that Paige had received $800 for participating in the 1943 game (in contrast to the $50 paid to the other players) and had demanded an extra cut for the 1944 game as well. Paige was removed from the roster and the a strike was averted when the owners agreed to raise the player payments (the East’s team accepted $200 each, while the West’s players agreed to $100).Tye 2009, p. 178.

In 1946, many of the Monarchs’ players, including Willard Brown, Connie Johnson, Buck O’Neil, Ford Smith, and Ted Strong, returned from military service, and the team led the NAL in both the first and second halves, capturing the league pennant.Riley 2002, pp. 127, 430, 589, 725, 750; Clark and Lester 1994, p. 165. O’Neil led the league in batting average, Brown in home runs, Johnson in wins, and Paige in total run average.Holway 2001, p. 433.

1946 Negro World Series

The Monarchs faced the Newark Eagles in the 1946 Negro World Series. The first game was played at the Polo Grounds and Hilton Smith started for the Monarchs. The Monarchs held a 1–0 lead in the bottom of the sixth, when Smith walked Larry Doby to lead off the inning, and Paige was called in to relieve. Paige struck out Monte Irvin and Lenny Pearson, but Doby stole second and Paige gave up a single to Johnny Davis, which tied the game. In the top of the seventh, the Monarchs got the lead back when Paige hit a single, advanced to second on an error, and scored on a hit by Herb Souell. Paige shut down the Eagles for the rest of the game, striking out eight and allowing four hits over four innings, and was credited with the win.

Two days later, Paige came into the second game in a similar situation as the first, but the result was quite different. Ford Smith started the game for the Monarchs, and he had a 4–1 lead entering the bottom of the seventh. After allowing two runs and with Irvin on first, Paige was brought in to protect the 4–3 lead. This time, however, Paige gave up four hits before the end of the inning, and four runs crossed the plate. Paige finished the game, but was charged with the loss in the 7–4 game.

The next two games were played in Kansas City, and the Monarchs won game three, getting a complete game from Jim LaMarque. Ted Alexander started game four, but gave way to Paige in the top of the sixth with the Monarchs trailing 4–1. Paige gave up three runs on three hits in the sixth, including a home run to Irvin. He went on to finish the game, giving up one more run in the seventh, and the Monarchs lost 8 to 1.Holway 2001, pp. 438–440.