Mellinger: Fifty years ago, Satchel Paige pitched his last big-league game … at age 59

From Sam Mellinger at the Kansas City Star on September 18, 2015, with mention of SABR member John Thorn:

If you stand at 22nd and Brooklyn and look northwest, toward downtown, you can use your imagination and feel that old stadium. They built it into the ground. Dug out mounds of earth to make room for the field where some of the country’s greatest athletes played — Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle, George Blanda and Mean Joe Greene.

Yes, Municipal Stadium had some moments. When the old place was finally abandoned — first when the A’s left for Oakland, then as the Royals and Chiefs moved to the Truman Sports Complex — they ripped down the structure and buried the field. It’s an open park now, with a cluster of homes where right field used to be.

Some believe that if you dug up the rocks and mud here you could find old stadium bones. The skeleton of a playground for so many legends. Josh Gibson. Fred Biletnikoff. Hank Aaron. Some believe you could find those old memories, buried underneath.

Maybe that’s where the rocking chair is. Those old enough to remember always smile when you mention the rocking chair. How could they forget?

This was 50 years ago next week — Sept. 25, 1965. One of the greatest nights that old stadium ever saw. Certainly the best moment the Athletics had here before moving, though admittedly, that’s a low bar.

The story sounds made up now, impossible, like some myth passed down from grandfather to father to son, exaggerated with each telling. That makes it the perfect Satchel Paige story. This one happens to be verifiably true.

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Originally published: September 20, 2015. Last Updated: September 20, 2015.