On February 9, 1971, Leroy Robert "Satchel" Paige became the first player from the Negro Leagues to be elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Born in 1906 in Mobile, Alabama, Satchel got his nickname as a young boy working as a porter at a train station, toting numerous bags at once. In 1918, at age 12, he was sent to a state reform school where he first learned to pitch.
Satchel became known as one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history, pitching in both the Negro Leagues and Major League Baseball. Paige's pitching skills were legendary. Joe DiMaggio once referred to Satchel Paige as "the best and fastest pitcher I've ever faced." Paige played for numerous Negro League teams throughout 1927-1943. Birmingham Black Barons, Baltimore Black Sox, Cleveland Cubs, Pittsburgh Crawfords, Kansas City Monarchs, New York Black Yankees, and the Memphis Red Sox to name a few. When the Negro League was not playing in the winter, Paige would pitch exhibition games in the Caribbean and Mexico.
In 1948, Bill Veeck, the Cleveland Indians' owner, was in desperate need of a pitcher and decided to take a chance on Paige. In July 1948, Paige signed his first major league contract for $40,000 for the few months remaining in the season, becoming the first Negro pitcher in the American League. Paige was the oldest major league rookie ever when he joined the Indians in 1948. Paige played for the Indians until 1949, moved on to pitch for the St. Louis Browns from 1951-1953 and then Kansas City Athletics in 1965. He ended his major league career with a 28-31 record and a 3.29 ERA.
Satchel Paige passed away in 1982 in Kansas City, Missouri. On July 28, 2006, a statue of Satchel Paige was unveiled in Cooper Park located in Cooperstown, New York commemorating the contributions of the Negro Leagues to baseball.
"I never had a job. I always played baseball." - Satchel Paige.
The photo below shows Satchel Paige with Jackie Robinson, Kansas City Monarchs second baseman.