Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Paige Pitches First Major League Complete Game

On August 13, 1948 Hall of Famer Satchel Paige at age 42, pitches his first major league complete game.

Paige was an American baseball player whose pitching in the Negro leagues and in Major League Baseball (MLB) made him a legend in his own lifetime. Paige was unanimously chosen to be the first Negro-Leaguer in the Hall due to his pitching dominance during the ‘30s and ‘40s.

Paige was a right-handed pitcher and was the oldest rookie to play in the MLB at the age of 42. He played with the St. Louis Browns until age 47, and represented them in the All-Star Game in 1952 and 1953. He first played for the semi-professional Mobile Tigers from 1924 to 1926. He was also a five time Negro League All-Star in 1934, 1936, 1941, 1942 and 1943.

Paige began his professional career in 1926 with the Chattanooga Black Lookouts of the Negro Southern League, and played his last professional game on June 21, 1966, for the Peninsula Grays of the Carolina League. However, his last game in the MLB was on Sep, 25, 1965 for the Kansas City Athletics.

Paige’s career in the MLB featured 28 wins and 31 losses, with a 2.29 earned run average, while collecting 288 strikeouts. He was selected to the MLB All-Star game twice, the Negro League All-Star game five times. He was a World Champion in both the Negro leagues in 1942 with the Kansas City Monarchs and in the MLB in 1948 with the Cleveland Indians.

Paige was among the most famous and successful players from the Negro Leagues. While his outstanding control as a pitcher first got him noticed, it was his infectious, cocky, enthusiastic personality and his love for the game that made him a star. On town tours across America, Paige would have his infielders sit down behind him and then routinely strike out the side.

As a member of the Cleveland Indians, Paige became the oldest rookie in Major league Baseball and attracted record crowds wherever he pitched.

Paige was inducted into the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame in 1990 along with Frank H. Howard, Frank Bolling and Eddie Stanky.

In 1999, he ranked Number 19 on Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

On July 28, 2006, a statue of Satchel Paige was unveiled in Cooper Park, Cooperstown, New York commemorating the contributions of the Negro leagues to baseball.

In 2010, sportswriter Joe Posnanski, writing for Sports Illustrated, named Paige as the hardest thrower in the history of baseball.

He based this, in part, on the fact that: "Joe DiMaggio would say that Paige was the best he ever faced. Bob Feller would say that Paige was the best he ever saw. Hack Wilson would say that the ball looked like a marble when it crossed the plate. Dizzy Dean would say that Paige’s fastball made his own look like a changeup."

Posnanski further noted that: "For most of his career Satchel Paige threw nothing but fastballs. Nothing. Oh, he named them different names – Bat Dodger, Midnight Rider, Midnight Creeper, Jump Ball, Trouble Ball ¬ but essentially they were all fastballs. And he was still unhittable for the better part of 15 years. One pitch. It's a lot like Mariano Rivera, except he wasn't doing it for one inning at a time. He was pitching complete games day after day. That had to be some kind of incredible fastball.... [he was] perhaps the most precise pitcher in baseball history—he threw ludicrously hard. And he also threw hundreds and hundreds of innings."

Paige would most likely be the most winningest pitcher of All-Time if you put his numbers from the Negro leagues in account with those of his MLB career, but most of those records are lost or incomplete.