Friday, March 18, 2005

Ole Satch

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was reading a biography of Satchel Paige for the last week. It's by a fella named Mark Ribowsky and I recommend it if you have any interest in the life of Satchel Paige or the history of black baseball in the twentieth century. I'm not exactly going out on a limb by saying that the exclusion of black baseball players from the major leagues for fifty years is an awesome blemish on the sport. People like Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and Cool Papa Bell would have been giants of the sport along the lines of the first seven hall of fame inductees. Besides, isn't Cool Papa Bell one of the coolest names you've ever heard of?

What is amazing about Satchel Paige is he was a rookie in 1948 and he was 41 years old and in 72 2/3 innings pitched his ERA was 2.48 and the league average was 4.07. He was an effective major league pitcher until 1953. At 46 years old he had an ERA of 3.53. That is unheard of. Look at it this way: Jerry Rice was the first ever NFL wide receiver to play into his forties and that happened just a couple of years ago. Of course football is much harder on the body but very few baseball players hang on into their forties even now.

The book was over 2/3 of the way through when Paige finally stepped onto a major league field in a relief appearance it's been a while since I felt such emotion while reading a book. After reading about his amazing life and talent for so long you can't help but say to yourself, "It's about fucking time. What were these crackers thinking?"

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