The legendary Satchel Paige is considered by baseball fans as the greatest Negro Leagues pitcher, and a pitching legend period for the feats he achieved while playing in the Major League Baseball league. Paige is the first Black pitcher to play in the World Series, and the first Negro Leagues player to be inducted in the MLB’s Hall Of Fame.
Leroy Robert Paige was born July 7, 1906 in Mobile, Ala. The nickname “Satchel” has several roots, with one being that as a boy, Paige carried around a device that allowed him to tote bags at a local train station. Another was that he was caught trying to steal a bag as a boy.
Paige was arrested for shoplifting just shy of his 13th birthday and he was sent to a state reform school until he was 18. At the school, Paige developed a love for baseball and learned his formidable pitching style there. After playing semi-pro baseball for several Mobile teams, Paige caught the attention of a minor Negro Southern Leagues team, the Chattanooga White Sox.
Paige’s raw baseball skills dazzled but he still needed some refinement. After joining the National Negro Leagues’ Birmingham Black Barons, Pagie would dominate the league for over 22 years, drawing large crowds and becoming a vocal advocate for integrating baseball. In fact, Paige was a popular barnstorming player that toured around the country playing against white players and dominating as he did in the Negro Leagues. Paige also played in international leagues such as the Cuban and Dominican Leagues, which didn’t have race restrictions.
In his autobiography, Paige wrote that the signing of his former Negro Leagues teammate Jackie Robinson was perhaps for the best. Despite Paige’s well-known desire for diversity in the major leagues, Robinson was only given the chance for the “big time” after Robinson played for the Brooklyn Dodgers’ minor league squad. According to accounts, Paige would have seen such a start as an insult although he later came to an understanding that Robinson was the best choice.