The Life and Times of an American Legend
by Larry Tye
A Baseball Book Review
Satchel is a nostalgic and generally very positive look at the life and times of Leroy “Satchel” Paige. The book covers many aspects of Satchel’s life, from his birth in poverty in Mobile, Alabama, thru his days in reform school, all aspects of his pitching career, and his “life after baseball” (although he never really “retired”). The book comments on his negatives such as contract-jumping, philandering, and the likelihood that he committed bigamy, but it treats those aspects of his life lightly. For the most part, it pictures a great athlete that marched to his own tune, was a top-notch pitcher as well as top-drawing entertainer, and fought racism in his own manner.
The book impressed upon me what a high-profile star Satchel actually was in the 1930s and 1940s. Interviews and newspaper quotes reinforce the image of a big media star, rivaling the major leaguers in attention and earnings. Of special interest to SABR members should be the compilation of his “league” pitching statistics. In recorded “league” games in the U.S. and Latin America, including the Negro Leagues, major leagues, Caribbean winter leagues, etc, Satchel recorded 278 wins and 135 losses. Add in the thousands of barnstorming and “special gate” games in which he pitched, and you get the picture of an overpowering pitcher with unheard-of longevity.
The book was both enjoyable and enlightening.
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Book: Satchel – The Life and Times of an American Legend
Author: Larry Tye
Author Credentials: He is an author, a journalist at The Boston Globe, and a Nieman Fellow at Harvard. He has authored four other books.
Published: 2009, Random House, ISBN 978-1-4000-6651-3
Length: 392 pages
Price: Retail list – $26.00; Online: from $16.00 + shipping.