Born on this day….
Leroy “Satchel” Paige
It is estimated that Leroy “Satchel” Paige was born on July 7, 1906. The mere idea that his birthday is an estimate provides perfect evidence to the mystery that was Satchel Paige. In 1965, 60 years after Paige’s supposed birthday, he took the mound for the last time, throwing three shutout innings for the Kansas City Athletics.
Joe DiMaggio called Satchel Paige “the best and fastest pitcher I’ve ever faced”. His pitching was amazing and his showboating was legendary. His career highlights span five decades. Pronounced the greatest pitcher in the history of the Negro Leagues, Paige compiled such feats as 64 consecutive scoreless innings, a stretch of 21 straight wins, and a 31-4 record in 1933. For 22 years, Paige mauled the competition in front of sellout crowds. Sure, he liked the attention, but to him, there was only one goal. That goal would be to pitch in the Major Leagues.
In 1948, Paige’s dream came true. The Cleveland Indians were in need of extra pitching for the pennant race. Legendary Bill Veeck tested Paige’s accuracy before offering him a big league contract. As the story is told, Veeck placed a cigarette on the ground to be used as a home plate. Paige took aim at his virtually nonexistent target. He fired five fastballs, all but one sailing directly over the cigarette. Veeck was indeed pleased, and Paige helped the Indians win the pennant.