Leroy Paige

From Ohio History Central

Leroy "Satchel" Paige played professional baseball for four decades and is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Paige was born in Mobile, Alabama. Although accounts vary, he apparently was born on July 7, 1906. Paige earned the nickname "Satchel" as a boy. He found employment carrying people's luggage at the Mobile train station. Found guilty of shoplifting and school truancy at the age of twelve, Paige was placed at the Industrial School for Negro Children in Mount Meigs, Alabama. Paige's parents hoped that this institution would provide their son with an opportunity to live a better and more productive life.

While at the Industrial School for Negro Children, Paige excelled as a baseball pitcher. In 1924, he joined the Mobile Tigers, a semi-professional baseball team in his hometown. In 1926, Paige became a pitcher for the Chattanooga Black Lookouts, a professional baseball team in the Negro Leagues. He remained in the Negro Leagues for the next twenty-one years and played for several different teams, including the Cleveland (Ohio) Cubs. While in the Negro Leagues, Page was on several championship teams. He pitched sixty-four consecutive scoreless innings and won twenty-one straight games. Many baseball experts consider Paige to have been the greatest pitcher of all time in the Negro Leagues.

In 1948, the Cleveland Indians hired Paige to improve the team's pitching staff. He was the first African-American pitcher in the American League. Paige won six games in 1948 and lost one. At forty-two years of age, Paige became the oldest rookie in Major League Baseball history.

In 1951, Paige signed with the St. Louis Browns. He was selected to play in the All-Star Game in 1952 and was the oldest player to receive this honor. From 1953 to 1956, Paige played for the Miami Marlins. He completed his professional playing career with the Kansas City Athletics in 1965 and went on to coach the Atlanta Braves in 1968.

Leroy "Satchel" Paige was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971. He was the first player who had played in the Negro Leagues to receive this honor. In 1968, Paige died of emphysema on June 8, 1982.

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