“Satchel – The Life and Times of an American Legend” by Larry Tye is a new book, published in 2009. I found it on a list of New York Times Bestsellers and decided to take a look.
According to the inside back jacket cover the author, Larry Tye, was a prize-winning journalist at ”The Boston Globe” and a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. He is an avid baseball fan, and he runs a training program for medical journalists.
I must say that before I read this book, although I had heard the name Satchel Paige, I really didn’t know anything about him.
The back cover contains this testimonial from Yogi Berra: “Knowing Satchel Paige is knowing nobody like him.”
“Satchel” contains many entertaining stories and quotes. Here are some of my favorites:
Satchel’s mother Lula told him: “If you tell a lie, always rehearse it. If it don’t sound good to you, it won’t sound good to anybody else.”
“Marriage is like walking in front of a firing squad without anybody making you do it.”
“It ain’t so much how hard you throw, it’s why and where.”
“Bases on balls is the curse of the nation. So throw strikes at all times. Unless you don’t want to.”
“After that honeymoon, I started noticing a powerful lightness in my hip pocket.”
The chapter titled “South of the Border” recalls events of 1937 and 1938 which took place in the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Topics include General Trujillo and a torn rotator cuff tendon.
In the 1940s, due to age and injury, Paige admitted that his fastball had slowed from “blindin’ speed” to “just blazin’ speed”.
Retirin’ the first batter is especially critical because that “gives the rest of ‘em the idea.”
On the subject of capitalism: “When the green’s floating around, make sure you get your share.”
In general, it seems that Satchel Paige was a funny guy. Some other players who were not funny, who didn’t have that gift, resented Satchel for it.
It never occurred to me that when the white major leagues brought in players from the Negro leagues, those players were already under contract, and sometimes those existing contracts were not honored or bought out – they were largely ignored.
Regarding his marital status, Satchel once said: “It’s like this. I’m not married, but I’m in great demand.”
“Don’t waste energy throwing the ball to the first baseman to keep a runner from taking a big lead, he chided his protégés, when stepping off the mound does the same thing effortlessly.”
Brothers Joe and Frank Torre were impressed with Satchel’s attitude about life. “He was always sort of being thankful just being alive.”
Hank Aaron once said: “Believe me, Satchel Paige had life figured out.”
Reading this book I learned a lot about Satchel Paige, but I also learned a lot about Jim Crow, about segregation and desegregation, and a lot more.
I enjoyed reading this book and I recommend it highly.