Whirty: Robert Paige relates stories of his father, Satchel

From SABR member Ryan Whirty at the Kansas City Star on August 8, 2015:

On one side of the roof of the car sat Leroy “Satchel” Paige, arguably the greatest pitcher in Negro Leagues history. On the other side perched Judy Johnson, legendary Negro Leagues third baseman.

Clasped in each of their hands was a rifle, which the two eventual Hall of Famers had trained for rabbits, as the vehicle — which had been rigged by the ever creative Paige to allow people to strap themselves on top — zoomed through the woods.

Behind the wheel of the auto sat poor 14-year-old Robert Paige, who was doing his absolute best to keep the vehicle from careening into a tree or throwing its roof riders onto the forest floor — and attempting to keep his frazzled nerves from snapping completely. Three phonebooks were sandwiched between the driver’s seat and Robert’s behind so he’d be high enough to operate the steering wheel, which he gripped with white knuckles, and see where he was going.

As the now 62-year-old Robert Paige relayed that childhood memory Friday to a roomful of rapt historians and fans of African-American baseball heritage during the Society for American Baseball Research’s 18th annual Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference, the audience periodically burst into laughter. The gregarious younger Paige has a keen knack for storytelling, a skill honed after growing up in Kansas with a man who not only was one of the best pitchers in the history of baseball but also, according to the son, was a wonderful, nurturing father.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/mlb/article30521898.html#storylink=cpy

Read the full article here: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/mlb/article30521898.html

Originally published: August 8, 2015. Last Updated: August 8, 2015.