This is a well researched biography of the greatest pitcher American base ball ever beheld. He was a legend in his own times. It’s hard to tell fact from fiction when searching for information about a legend, but Larry Tye gives it a good shot. For instance, an often told story about Mr. Paige’s unmatched speed with a baseball, says that Satchel was so fast, he could turn out the lights and be in the bed before it got dark.
Satchel Paige’s pitching was nothing short of amazing. For some reason Satchel’s pitching speed was never “clocked” by the machine, but witnesses say his fast ball zoomed between 107 and 110 mph. Mr. Paige complied such feats as 64 consecutive scoreless innings, a stretch of 21 straight wins, and a 31-4 record in 1933. For 22 years, Satchel demolished the competition in front of sell out crowds. One of his remarkable character traits was his longevity in the game and his seemingly endless success. His career highlights span five decades.
In 1948 he helped the Cleveland Indians win the pennant. He played for St. Louis and Kansas City, retiring with a 28-31 record with a 3.29 ERA, then coached the Atlanta Braves in 1968. He is described often as the best (only) in the Negro Leagues, but that’s like saying Aretha Franklin is great, for a Black singer. The book chronicles racist vulgarities pitched at him that would have dampened anyone’s flow, but it made his triumphs greater.
There’s an equally valuable record of accomplishment in Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend– that of his character, his spirit and wisdom. For instance, he encouraged his children to be happy, to sing and dance. He would tell them stories all day, and made them (and the neighbors) comfortable in his home. He clowned–a trait common to higher intellects that teach with a humility that allows the rest of us get the lesson without feeling relatively stupid. In the following Satchel Paigeisms quoted in this book, we can glimpse the philosophies that enabled him to accomplish his gigantic feets (size 11AAA as an adolescent).
“Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
“Ain’t no man can avoid being born average, but there ain’t no man got to be common.”
“Don’t Look back. Something might be gaining on you.”
“Don’t pray when it rains if you don’t know how to pray when the sun shines.”
“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?”
“If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts.”
“I don’t generally like running. I believe in training by rising gently up and down from the bench.”
“It’s funny what a few no-hitters do for a body.”
“My pitching philosophy is simple – keep the ball away from the bat.”
“Not to be cheered by praise, not to be grieved by blame, but to know thoroughly one’s own virtues or powers are the characteristics of an excellent man.”
“Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching.”