Satchel Paige


Satchel Paige : biography

July 7, 1906 – June 8, 1982

Kansas City won the fifth game and Newark won the sixth. For the deciding game seven, Paige was missing. Buck O’Neil believed Paige was meeting with Bob Feller about their upcoming barnstorming tour. With Ford Smith pitching, the Monarchs lost 3 to 2, and the Eagles claimed the championship.

Barnstorming with Feller: 1946–47

In 1946, Bob Feller organized the first barnstorming tour to use airplanes to travel from site to site. His tour has been described as "the most ambitious baseball undertaking since John McGraw and Charles Comiskey dreamed up their round-the-world junket in 1913."Gay 2010, p. 221. For his team, Feller recruited all-stars from both major leagues. As his main opponent, he asked Paige to head a team of Negro league all-stars.

Feller’s team included 1946 American League batting champion, Mickey Vernon, at first base, Johnny Berardino at second, Phil Rizzuto at shortstop, and Ken Keltner at third. The outfielders were Jeff Heath, Charlie Keller, and Sam Chapman; after the World Series was over, National League batting champion Stan Musial would also join the tour. Catching was shared by Jim Hegan and Frankie Hayes. In addition to Feller, the pitching staff included Bob Lemon, Dutch Leonard, Johnny Sain, Spud Chandler, and Fred Hutchinson.Gay 2010, pp. 221–222.

With help from J.L. Wilkinson and Tom Baird, Paige assembled a team that included first basemen Buck O’Neil, second baseman Hank Thompson, shortstops Chico Renfroe and Artie Wilson, third basemen Howard Easterling and Herb Souell, outfielders Gene Benson and Johnny Davis, catcher Quincy Trouppe, and pitchers Barney Brown, Gentry Jessup, Rufus Lewis, Hilton Smith, and Neck Stanley.Tye 2009, pp. 171–172; Holway 2001, pp. 433–443.

Feller scheduled 35 games in 31 cities in 17 different states, all to be played in 27 days. The tour would require 13,000 miles of travel. Several same-day multi-city doubleheaders were to be played. Feller leased two DC-3 airplanes, with "Bob Feller All-Stars" painted on one fuselage and "Satchel Paige All-Stars" on the other. While Feller’s team would face several other opponents, the majority of the games were against Paige’s team. Feller and Paige would start each game whenever possible and usually pitch one to five innings.Gay 2010, pp. 224–227.

The first game was played at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh on September 30, two days after the end of the major league season and one day after the final game of the Negro World Series. Paige and Feller each pitched three innings and left the game with the score tied 1–1. Feller struck out three and gave up two hits, while Paige struck out four and gave up only one hit. Paige’s team broke the tie in the seventh inning when Hank Thompson walked and stole second and Souell drove him home with a single up the middle.Gay 2010, pp. 227–228.

Over the next six days, Feller’s team won games in Youngstown, Cleveland, Chicago, Cincinnati, New York, and Newark, before Paige’s team won a second game in New York. Paige pitched five shutout innings in Yankee Stadium before a crowd of 27,462. After the game they flew to Baltimore, where that same evening Paige’s team beat Feller’s. The next day, Paige’s team won again in Columbus. From there, Feller’s team won games in Dayton, Ohio, Richmond, Indiana, Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Wichita, Kansas. They then played two games in Kansas City, with Paige’s team winning the first game on a three-run walk-off home run by Johnny Davis, and Feller’s team winning the second. After that series, Feller’s team continued on to Denver and California, while most of Paige’s team left the tour. Paige, however, continued on to California where he joined a lesser team, Chet Brewer’s Kansas City Royals, which was scheduled to play Feller’s All-Stars.Gay 2010, pp. 228–239.

Paige faced Feller in Los Angeles and in San Diego and lost both games. Another scheduled match-up was cancelled when Paige filed a lawsuit against Feller, claiming that Feller had not paid some of the money he was owed.Gay 2010, pp. 239–243. Overall, Feller had pitched 54 innings against Paige’s team and given up 15 runs, an average of 2.50 per nine innings. Paige had pitched 42 innings and allowed 18 runs, or 3.86 per nine innings.Tye 2009, p. 173.