• Kurtis Tatkenhorst

July 7- Cleveland Indians sign 42 Year-Old Negro Leagues Legend Satchel Paige

1948- On this day in Sports History, Leroy “Satchel” Paige signed with the Cleveland Indians. At 42 years old, Paige is one of the oldest rookies to ever make their Major League Baseball debut. Paige was a legend in the Negro Leagues and finally got his shot in the MLB where he helped the Cleveland Indians win the 1948 World Series.

Paige was one of the best pitchers in the country in the 1930’s and 40’s, but wasn’t able to play in the MLB because he was Black. He made his professional baseball debut in 1927 when he was 20 years old with the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues. He then bounced around several different teams and leagues playing baseball. He spent the majority of the 1940’s with the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro Leagues. Satchel Paige had a lot of success in the Negro Leagues and he should have been one of the best pitchers in the MLB had he been allowed to play.

Finally, on April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers broke the MLB’s color barrier and became the first African-American to play in the MLB. The Cleveland Indians were one of the leaders in integrating the league as they were the second team to sign an African-American. Two months after Robinson played his first game in the MLB, Larry Doby signed a contract with the Indians.

On this day in 1948, the Indian’s surprised the league by signing Satchel Paige to a contract. Although he was regarded as one of the best pitcher’s in the game, Paige was 42 years old and had to be approaching the end of his career. Many people called the signing just a publicity stunt. However, the Indians were in a tight race in the American League with the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. After signing in the middle of the season, Satchel Paige appeared in 21 games and held a 6-1 record. He helped the Indians finish one game above the Boston Red Sox to win the American League Pennant and make the World Series. They then defeated the Boston Braves in six games to win the World Series. Satchel Paige appeared in a game for the Indians and Larry Dody became the first Black player to hit a home run in the World Series.

Satchel Paige went on to play two more seasons with the Cleveland Indians. He then played for the St. Louis Browns the next two seasons. He was an MLB All-Star for the Browns for the 1952 and 1953 seasons. Paige didn’t play in another MLB game until 1965. At 58 years old, he pitched in one game and threw three scoreless innings for the Kansas City Athletics. Satchel Paige was inducted into the Baseball Hall-of-Fame in 1971.


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Sources:

Bell, Mandy. “'Unhittable': Satchel Paige's Legendary Career.” MLB.com, MLB, 14 Apr. 2020

“Satchel Paige Stats.” Baseball Reference,

Mayo, Jonathon. “Paige Turner.” MLB.com, Major League Baseball

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