BY MOLLIE S. WATERS
The Greenville Standard
Jackie Robinson led the way for African-Americans in professional baseball.
Before he was signed to Major League Baseball (MLB) in 1946, Robinson and other African-Americans who aspired to play professional baseball would have only been allowed to do so in the Negro National League.
Robinson broke the baseball color barrier as an infielder; the next year, Leroy “Satchel” Paige became the first African-American pitcher in the MLB.
Paige was an Alabama native. He was born in Mobile in 1906.
According to History.com, Paige got his nickname in an interesting way.
“He earned his nickname, Satchel, as a boy when he earned money carrying passengers’ bags at train stations,” states the History.com article about Paige.
Paige first played professional baseball for the Negro National League.
As a pitcher, he accomplished a great deal.
“He pitched an estimated 2,500 games, had 300 shut-outs and 55 no-hitters,” states the History.com article. “In one month in 1935, he reportedly pitched 29 consecutive games.”
Paige became the oldest rookie in MLB when he began playing in that league in 1948 at the age of 42.
Paige was one of the most valuable pitchers in the MLB, and his impressive style drew large crowds.
He retired from professional baseball in 1953, but he returned for three innings in 1965.
“He was 59 at the time, making him the oldest person ever to play in the Major Leagues,” states the History.com website.
Paige was also famous for having a good sense of humor. He is quoted as saying, “Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
On Feb. 9, 1971, Satchel Paige became the first African American who had played in the Negro National League to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
He passed away on June 8, 1982.