32—Satchel, The Life and Times of an American Legend by Larry Tye

Satchel Paige was the P.T. Barnum of the baseball world. "He was, arguably the best pitcher to ever throw a baseball." This ultimate showman was a consumate story teller and incredible baseball pitcher rolled into one. His ability to throw a baseball with precise accuracy coupled with his exaggerated performance on the field excited crowds and brought more people to the the park than any other player, black or white (with the possible exception of Babe Ruth).

Paige was instrumental in the effort to integrate major league baseball. His age, 42, and his ego were two of the reasons he was not the first Negro in MLB. He was, I believe, the fourth Black to be in MLB and the first Negro to be inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame.

This biography of Paige is a history of Jim Crow, too. Paige was not militant, but rather a quiet campaigner. In the off season his team of the best Negro ball players barnstormed the country playing the best of the white players. He also formed mixed teams and barnstormed with them. Wherever he went he drew crowds of thousands, all of whom came to see Satchel. All of whom could see what the segregated major leagues were missing.

Tye delves into the man, the myth, the times, and baseball. Paige was an interesting, complicated man. The book is a good read.

© Surveyor of the Passing Scene