The legend of Satchel Paige is known by many in the baseball community. Although he spent the bulk of his career in the Negro Leagues, including seven seasons with the Kansas City Monarchs, Paige’s outstanding numbers earned him a well-deserved place in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The Hall enshrined him 50 years ago yesterday, and the KC Royals commemorated the historic event before Monday night’s game against the Yankees.
For 50 years, Paige’s Hall of Fame plaque never left Cooperstown. However, it was on display at Kauffman Stadium for the big day.
Fans were able to see the plaque in the Royals’ own Hall of Fame during Monday’s game, and there was a pregame ceremony in honor of Paige. Fittingly, one of his daughters threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
His plaque has since been moved to be put on display in the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City.
What is there to be said about Paige that hasn’t already been said?
Satchel Paige was a man of legend who the KC Royals honored Monday.
The first thing to know about Paige is what no one seems quite sure of—his age. Throughout his life, conflicting birthdates were provided, but Baseball Reference lists his birthday as July 7, 1906, which would have made him 21 when he began his Negro League career in 1927 with the Birmingham Black Barons.
He splashed onto the scene when he led the National Negro League in strikeouts with 121 in his sophomore season, and the Negro League with 189 his third year. He went on to lead in strikeouts four more times for a total of six, and his overall career strikeouts reached 1,438.
While Major League Baseball had, and has, its annual All-Star Game pitting the American League against the National, the Negro Leagues had their own version—the East-West All-Star Game. Paige was a six-time Negro League All-Star and two-time MLB All-Star in his 21-year professional career.
He spent much of that career (1941-47) with the Kansas City Monarchs (including a season with fellow Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson in 1945), with whom he had a 2.18 ERA, 344 strikeouts, and 0.991 WHIP, and allowed only two home runs in the seven years he spent with the club. His 0.72 ERA and 8.7 SO/9 at the age of 37 led the Negro Leagues in 1944. He was also part of the 1942 Monarchs’ championship team.
At 42, Paige broke through into the major leagues in 1948 when he signed with the Cleveland Indians, where he won a World Series. He spent a few more years in the majors up until 1953, when he was released by the St. Louis Browns after posting a disappointing 3-9 record and 3.53 ERA.
Despite being in his 50s, Paige continued his minor league career in the Carolina League, International League, and Pacific Coast League. The, at 59, Paige made his return to the majors when he was signed by the Kansas City Athletics in 1965. Although he only pitched for the A’s once, Paige proved he could still be great by retiring six straight batters, surrendering only one hit, and not giving up a run in a three-inning start against the Red Sox Sept. 25.
Paige ended his pro career with a record of 118-80 and a 2.70 ERA, 1,438 strikeouts, and a 1.092 WHIP. He threw 93 complete games and 22 shutouts, and had 44 saves.
Although he wasn’t a KC Royal, Paige is deeply connected to Kansas City.
Paige called Kansas City home for over 30 years, living at East 28th Street and Prospect Avenue. Unfortunately, the house was damaged by fire three years ago, but the state of Missouri is providing $500,000 to help pay for reconstruction. Once the home is renovated, it will be made into a museum dedicated to Paige.
No doubt, once the project is finished, much more will be shared about Paige, thus continuing the sharing of his story and legendary career through future generations.
Satchel Paige was a Kansas City legend the KC Royals honored before Monday’s game.