In his hometown streets of Mobile, Alabama, Satchel Paige fired rocks with enough power and precision to bring down a bird or a rival gang member. In the Negro Leagues he fine-tuned a pitch so fast that catchers complained it set their mitts on fire. After a young Joe DiMaggio managed a scratch a single off of him, a Yankees scout wired his bosses, "DiMaggio all we hoped he'd be. Hit Satch one for four."
But racial discrimination kept the Yankees and every other big-league team from signing Paige until he was 42, when he was voted Rookie of the Year. While many dismissed him as a Stepin Fetchit, if not an Uncle Tom, this book makes clear that Paige was something else entirely, a quiet subversive, defying both Uncle Tom and Jim Crow. He pitched so spectacularly that white writers and fans turned out to watch black baseball. He drew the spotlight first to himself, then to his all-black Kansas City Monarchs, and inevitably to the Monarch's rookie second baseman Jackie Robinson.
In the process, Satchel, even more than Jackie, opened the door for African Americans to the national pastime and forever changed his sport and this nation.
©2009 Larry Tye; (P)2009 Random House
"Having known Satchel when I was a young ballplayer, I'm reminded of the man who took over the game with both his superior pitching and his dynamic personality. This book is a must-read that captures the essence of one of the greatest legends in baseball history, Satchel Paige. (Dusty Baker, Manager, Cincinnati Reds)
I would recommend this title to a friend. I found it very insightful into the life of a great baseball player.
Yes, I would have loved to listen to this in one sitting, but I just don't have that kind of time.
There were a few places where some of the audio was missing, the editing was bad, and there were a few repeated lines. It looks like this book has been out for a few years and I was surprised that they haven't corrected these issues yet.
? what'd you do with outrageous talent as a black 20 year old in 1926
? how'd you respond to scouts who'd say "...boy, if only you were white..."
? what'd you say if you had to wait until you were 42 to get your chance
born in 1906, leroy robert "satchel" paige faced all these questions and more
blessed with a perfect right arm and cursed with a " jim crow " childhood
he ranked easily among the 20 best baseball players of all time
his life had every sad and varied element of 20th century african-american life
it's no surprise it is so relentlessly hard, paradoxical and counterintuitive
he seemed forever balanced between cold blooded competitor and playful clown
all the showmanship and exaggeration kept the writers and fans amused
and it kept the light focused on satchel and the world at a reliable arms length
the introverted performer treasured the mound as his personal safe stage
so many aspects of his professional behavior pre-date free agency
he never apologized for offering his fantastic talents to the highest bidder
his matter-of-fact mercenary approach would fit in perfectly with today's game
the book helped me see beyond the playful quotes and clowning to the man inside
he sadly burned for the opportunity to just show the world what he could do
he felt sorry, not for himself but for those that never got to see him play
I don't envy Larry Tye. Satchel Paige is probably one of the people most difficult to profile in a biography of all time. He is a baseball legend, a true celebrity from baseball's pre-integration years who is a mix of truth and lore. He was both unappreciated (lack of coverage, press time) and exaggerated (claims about his playing days sometimes stretched beyond reality). Again, I don't envy Larry Tye.
But he gave it a good go. He obviously spent his time researching. However, there was a clear lack of flow in places and the overall organization needed improvement. I would have liked more time spent covering his years with the Kansas City Monarchs and also more time in his later barnstorming years. Both of those eras seemed glossed over in comparison with his Pittsburgh, North Dakota and major league years.
This book was extremely well researched and written and the reading of the book was very enjoyable to listen to. This book went into so much detail about not only Satchel's life but the negro leagues as well. It painted a great picture of not only the great career he had over 40 plus years of playing baseball but of the kind of person he was as well. For any fan of baseball and the history of baseball this book is a must read/listen.
More than baseball, this book presents an outstanding portrayal of the qualities required to endure difficulties and work around the most outrages regimes to find success in the hands that are been dealt to us.
Amazing talent or not, Satchel Paige fought until the end and got in life, early or late, what was initially denied to him and others despite of preexisting limiting conditions.
While racial bias and its consequences are powerful drags, lack of personal will to rule over those conditions is also a force to reckon with. Satchel will and determination proved to be the right ingredients to advance his personal interest and, by extension, that of an entire generation of segregated individuals.
At the end, understandably, the scares from all those fights caught up with him sadly turning the living legend into a bitter old man. Health issues probably played a big role in that too.
This is a great book for sports' fans and anyone looking for examples of how others have overcome adversity by fighting with the tools circumstances allow and never finding excuses in themselves or the surrounding conditions.
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