From Ryan Whirty at the Cleveland Plain Dealer on July 16, 2013, with mention of SABR members Stephanie Liscio and Larry Tye:
There were a fair share of doubters after the Indians signed Satchel Paige to a contract in July 1948.
Most people had heard stories of Paige’s glory days, had heard how dominant the Alabama native had been in the Negro Leagues for more than two decades, had heard about his fanning legendary slugger Josh Gibson on three straight whiffs, had heard about him telling his outfielders to have a seat because he was so good and so confident.
But this . . . this was different. This was major-league baseball, the Show, the pinnacle of baseball achievement. And ol’ Satch was 42 years old (give or take a year or two). What was Bill Veeck, the whimsical, renegade owner of the Indians, thinking when he signed Paige to a major-league contract July 7, 1948? The Indians were in the thick of a pennant race, and he’s bringing in someone who’s practically a senior citizen, for cryin’ out loud?
“How much help he can give the Indians now is problematical . . .” opined New York Times legend Arthur Daley on July 8, 1948. “The speed has gone from his arm but the cunning still remains. . . . The Satch of a decade or two ago might have been able to assure the Tribe of a pennant. But he’s been in the twilight of his career for so long that there’s just no telling.”
But there were just as many believers.
Read the full article here: http://www.cleveland.com/tribe/index.ssf/2013/07/65_years_ago_satchel_paige_got.html
Originally published: July 16, 2013. Last Updated: July 16, 2013.