May 13, 2010
Leroy “Satchel” Paige pitched his final baseball game in 1965 at age 60, throwing three scoreless innings for the Kansas City Athletics. His professional baseball legacy began with the Birmingham Black Barons in 1927, where he established himself as the greatest pitcher in the history of the Negro Leagues. Born in Mobile, Paige was locked up at age 12 for six years at the Industrial School for Negro Children, a reform school in Mt. Meigs, Alabama. (He had numerous theft and truancy incidents on his record prior to incarceration.)
In 1971, Paige was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The pitcher was among the pioneers who crossed Major League Baseball’s color barrier in 1948 when he signed a contract with the Cleveland Indians. His tryout included throwing four of five fastballs directly above a cigarette representing home plate. Joe DiMaggio referred to Paige as “the best and fastest pitcher I’ve ever faced.”
On May 18, from 6 to 7 p.m., author Larry Tye will appear at Vulcan Park and Museum to discuss his book Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend. Tye’s appearance coincides with the exhibit From Factory to Field: The Dream of Baseball in Birmingham. For details, call 933-1409 or go to www.visitvulcan.com.