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Satchel: The Life and times of an American Legendby Larry Tye
Synopses & Reviews
He is that rare American icon who has never been captured in a biography worthy of him. Now, at last, here is the superbly researched, spellbindingly told story of athlete, showman, philosopher, and boundary breaker Leroy “Satchel” Paige.
Few reliable records or news reports survive about players in the Negro Leagues. Through dogged detective work, award-winning author and journalist Larry Tye has tracked down the truth about this majestic and enigmatic pitcher, interviewing more than two hundred Negro Leaguers and Major Leaguers, talking to family and friends who had never told their stories before, and retracing Paige’s steps across the continent. Here is the stirring account of the child born to an Alabama washerwoman with twelve young mouths to feed, the boy who earned the nickname “Satchel” from his enterprising work as a railroad porter, the young man who took up baseball on the streets and in reform school, inventing his trademark hesitation pitch while throwing bricks at rival gang members.
Tye shows Paige barnstorming across America and growing into the superstar hurler of the Negro Leagues, a marvel who set records so eye-popping they seemed like misprints, spent as much money as he made, and left tickets for “Mrs. Paige” that were picked up by a different woman at each game. In unprecedented detail, Tye reveals how Paige, hurt and angry when Jackie Robinson beat him to the Majors, emerged at the age of forty-two to help propel the Cleveland Indians to the World Series. He threw his last pitch from a big-league mound at an improbable fifty-nine. (“Age is a case of mind over matter,” he said. “If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”)
More than a fascinating account of a baseball odyssey, Satchel rewrites our history of the integration of the sport, with Satchel Paige in a starring role. This is a powerful portrait of an American hero who employed a shuffling stereotype to disarm critics and racists, floated comical legends about himself–including about his own age–to deflect inquiry and remain elusive, and in the process methodically built his own myth. “Don’t look back,” he famously said. “Something might be gaining on you.” Separating the truth from the legend, Satchel is a remarkable accomplishment, as large as this larger-than-life man.
Leroy "Satchel" Paige is a poster child for the tragedy of segregated baseball. He could have dominated major league pitching but got a chance with the Indians only at the end of his career. Paige could have been the star to break baseball's color line, but Jackie Robinson got first crack as a "safer choice." While there are stacks of biographies about Robinson, this is the first attempt at a full, major biography of Paige. Tye, a journalist, is more noted for his labor histories, such as Rising from the Rails, about black rail porters. However, he's a passionate baseball fan with a strong interest in the history of segregated America. Why has so little been written about Paige? One factor is the difficulty of getting reliable information. Paige was well known for embellishing stories. Tye masterfully weaves primary and oral sources together to create a credible biography of a talkative yet elusive subject. We can hope that his occasional sloppiness when it comes to sports facts (e.g., he refers to Joltin' Joe Dimaggio as "Jumpin'" Joe) will have been corrected for publication because this is an important book about a neglected figure in baseball history. Recommended for all readers in sports as well as 20th-century America.Randall Schroeder, Ferris State Univ., Big Rapids, MI Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
He is that rare American icon who has never been captured in a biography worthy of him. Now, at last, here is the superbly researched, spell
About the Author
LARRY TYE was an award-winning journalist at The Boston Globe and a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. An avid baseball fan, Tye now runs a Boston-based training program for medical journalists. He is the author of Shock, Rising from the Rails, Home Lands, and The Father of Spin (a New York Times Notable Book), and his books have been turned into documentaries and films.
Table of Contents
Chronology — Coming alive — Blackball — The glory trail — The game in black and white — South of the border — Kansas City, here I come — Master of the manor — Baseball's great experiment — An opening at last — Crafting a legend — Maybe I'll pitch forever — Appendix: Satchel by the numbers.
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