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Publisher's Summary

New York Times Best Seller • The superbly researched, spellbindingly told story of athlete, showman, philosopher, and boundary breaker Leroy “Satchel” Paige

“Among the rare biographies of an athlete that transcend sports . . . gives us the man as well as the myth.” (The Boston Globe)

Few reliable records or news reports survive about players in the Negro Leagues. Through dogged detective work, award-winning author and journalist Larry Tye has tracked down the truth about this majestic and enigmatic pitcher, interviewing more than 200 Negro Leaguers and Major Leaguers, talking to family and friends who had never told their stories before, and retracing Paige’s steps across the continent. Here is the stirring account of the child born to an Alabama washerwoman with 12 young mouths to feed, the boy who earned the nickname “Satchel” from his enterprising work as a railroad porter, the young man who took up baseball on the streets and in reform school, inventing his trademark hesitation pitch while throwing bricks at rival gang members. 

Tye shows Paige barnstorming across America and growing into the superstar hurler of the Negro Leagues, a marvel who set records so eye-popping they seemed like misprints, spent as much money as he made, and left tickets for “Mrs. Paige” that were picked up by a different woman at each game. In unprecedented detail, Tye reveals how Paige, hurt and angry when Jackie Robinson beat him to the Majors, emerged at the age of 42 to help propel the Cleveland Indians to the World Series. He threw his last pitch from a big-league mound at an improbable 59. (“Age is a case of mind over matter,” he said. “If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”) 

More than a fascinating account of a baseball odyssey, Satchel rewrites our history of the integration of the sport, with Satchel Paige in a starring role. This is a powerful portrait of an American hero who employed a shuffling stereotype to disarm critics and racists, floated comical legends about himself - including about his own age - to deflect inquiry and remain elusive, and in the process methodically built his own myth. “Don’t look back”, he famously said. “Something might be gaining on you.” Separating the truth from the legend, Satchel is a remarkable accomplishment, as large as this larger-than-life man. 

©2009 Larry Tye (P)2009 Random House

Critic Reviews

"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)

What listeners say about Satchel

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good story about a baseball icon.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recommend this title to a friend. I found it very insightful into the life of a great baseball player.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, I would have loved to listen to this in one sitting, but I just don't have that kind of time.

Any additional comments?

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.

1 person found this helpful

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free lance / free man / free agent

? 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



1 person found this helpful

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Wonderful Biography

This was an amazing book. I would’ve given it 5 stars except the speaker kept saying “Veek” when referring to Bill Veeck (prounounced Veck). Given how close the two were in each other’s lives and how Veeck’s autobiography is called “Veeck as in Wreck,” seems like a big oversight. Other than that, this had stories I haven’t heard before about the possibly the greatest pitcher to have ever lived, and I’m a big Satchel fan. It also does a great job of telling his failings as well as successes. I can’t imagine how hard this was to research.

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the best biography on Satchel Paige

a beautiful and honest account of a great yet complicated American icon. the best biography available.

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Veeck rhymes with beck not beak

Satchel led an amazing life. Too bad the narrator didn't didn't research Bill Veeck's life.

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A portrait of a legend.

Nothing I can say about Satchel that Larry Tye didn't say better, it was a marvelous listen. My only criticism is for the narrator- It's Veeck as in Wreck, his name does not rhyme with leek.

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Great story

If you like baseball you’ll love this book👍⚾️ would recommend to anyone who appreciates the nuances of baseball and the cultural significance of “Shadow Ball” on our national pastime.

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Magnificent and Heartbreaking

Great storytelling about the most mythical pitcher in the history of the game. The author weaves in the facts about Satchel while paying homage to the legendary aspects that have kept fans fascinated for generations. In the end this book is a tragedy of what America missed out on by excluding the greats of the Negro Leagues.

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Fascinating Person! Biography could be better...

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.

3.5 stars

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Absolutely fantastic book. A must listen!

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.