Satchel Paige


Satchel Paige : biography

July 7, 1906 – June 8, 1982

In the spring of 1935, Greenlee refused Paige’s request to raise his $250 per month salary, so Paige decided to return to Bismarck for the same $400 per month and late model used car that he got before. Churchill added other Negro league players to the team—pitchers Barney Morris, and Hilton Smith, catcher Quincy Trouppe, and pitcher/catcher Double Duty Radcliffe. Paige dominated the competition, with a 29–2 record, 321 strikeouts, and only 16 walks. In Wichita, Ray "Hap" Dumont was establishing a new national baseball tournament, the National Baseball Congress. Dumont invited 32 semi-pro teams, paying $1,000 for Paige and his Bismarck teammates to attend. The tournament was held at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium in Wichita, Kansas and offered a $7,000 purse. Churchill added yet another Negro league star to his team—Chet Brewer, the Kansas City Monarchs’ ace pitcher. Bismarck swept the tournament in seven straight games. Paige won the four games he started, pitched in relief in a fifth game, and struck out 60 batters—a record that still held 74 years later.McNary 2000–01; Ribowsky 1994, pp. 124–32; Tye 2009, pp. 102–07.

In September, Paige could not return to the NNL because he was banned from the league for the 1935 season for jumping to the Bismarck team. J. L. Wilkinson, owner of the independent Kansas City Monarchs, signed Paige on a game-by-game basis through the end of the season.Ribowsky 1994, pp. 133–36.

That winter, a northern California promoter, Johnny Burton, hired Paige to front a team called the "Satchel Paige All-Stars," in a game to be held on February 7, 1936 in Oakland against a white all-star squad. The opposing team included a number of major league players out of the Bay Area, including Ernie Lombardi, Augie Galan, Cookie Lavagetto, and Gus Suhr, as well as Pacific Coast League star Joe DiMaggio, who was making his last stop as a minor leaguer before joining the New York Yankees. Other than Negro league catcher, Ebel Brooks, Paige’s team was composed of local semi-pro players. Despite the imbalance in talent, Paige kept the game to a 1–1 tie through nine innings, striking out 12 and giving up one run on three hits. In the bottom of the tenth inning, he struck out two more, then gave up a single to Dick Bartell, bringing up DiMaggio. Bartell stole second on the first pitch, then went to third on a wild pitch. DiMaggio then hit a hard hopper to the mound that Paige deflected; DiMaggio beat the second baseman’s throw to drive in the winning run. A Yankee scout watching the game wired the club that day a report that read, "DiMaggio everything we’d hoped he’d be: Hit Satch one for four."Ribowsky 1994, pp. 136–38; Tye 2009, pp. 96–97. DiMaggio later said that Paige was the best pitcher he had ever faced.Daily Worker article by Lester Rodney, 1937, quoted by

In 1936, Paige returned to Pittsburgh where Greenlee acquiesced to Paige’s salary demands and gave him a $600-per-month contract, by far the highest in the Negro leagues.Ribowsky 1994, pp. 140–42. In games for which complete box scores are available, Paige went 5–0, allowed 3.21 runs per game, and struck out 47 in 47 innings. At the end of the season, Tom Wilson arranged with the other NNL owners to assemble an all-star team that would enter the lucrative Denver Post tournament. The team included Paige, Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, Leroy Matlock, Buck Leonard, Felton Snow, Bill Wright and Sammy Hughes. They swept the tournament in seven straght games to win the $5,000 prize, with Paige winning three of them. In the title game against an overmatched semi-pro team from Borger, Texas, Paige pitched a 7–0 shutout, striking out 18. The Negro league all-stars then barnstormed, playing a series against a team of major leaguers led by Rogers Hornsby. One match-up featured Paige facing the 17-year-old Bob Feller, who had just finished a half season with the Cleveland Indians. Each pitched three innings and gave up one hit, with Feller striking out eight and Paige seven. Later in the game, the Negro league team pulled out a win.Ribowsky 1994, pp. 144–45.