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Published On: Sun, Feb 9th, 2014

This Day in History: Negro League star Satchel Paige nominated for the Baseball Hall of Fame

Pitcher Leroy “Satchel” Paige became the first Negro League veteran to be nominated for the Baseball Hall of Fame on February 9, 1971. Paige was a legend, with an amazing fastball, showmanship and played a career which spanned five decades.

Satchel_Paige_1949_Bowman baseball cardJoe DiMaggio once called Paige “the best and fastest pitcher I’ve ever faced.”

In 1947, Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier and became the first African American to play in the Major Leagues when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers. The following year, Paige also entered the majors, signing with the Cleveland Indians and becoming, at age 42, baseball’s oldest rookie. He helped the Indians win the pennant that year and later played for the St. Louis Browns and Kansas City A’s.

As a barnstorming player who traveled thousands of miles each season and played for whichever team met his asking price, he pitched an estimated 2,500 games, had 300 shut-outs and 55 no-hitters. In one month in 1935, he reportedly pitched 29 consecutive games.

Paige retired from the majors in 1953, but returned in 1965 to pitch three innings for the Kansas City A’s.

He was 59 at the time, making him the oldest person ever to play in the Major Leagues. Paige started the game, pitched three innings, only allowing one hit and registered one strikeout.

In addition to being famous for his talent and longevity, Paige was also well-known for his sense of humor and colorful observations on life, including: “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you” and “Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

He died June 8, 1982, in Kansas City, Missouri.

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