From Publishers Weekly
Tye, a Boston Globe
reporter and author of The Father of Spin
, offers the first biography on Satchel Paige, the premier pitcher of the Negro Leagues. Having interviewed more than 200 veteran fellow players of the Negro and Major Leagues, he is able to flesh out the Satchel Paige persona. Through PaigeÖs hardscrabble years in Jim Crow Alabama to his time with the all-black Monarchs, one of the powerhouses in segregated colored ball, Tye dissects SatchelÖs mastery of pitching, his accuracy, power and velocity, and signature pitch, the sizzler. Satchel was among the peerless Negro Leaguers, who beat the white big leaguers more than 60% of the time; he struck out some of the biggest sluggers, like Ralph Kiner, Rogers Hornsby and even Joe DiMaggio, who got one hit off of Satchel and was signed by the Yankees immediately. He became one of four black athletes signed up in the late 1940s, with the Cleveland Indians, three years after Jackie Robinson joined the Dodgers (the two men were bitter rivals). This is the definitive biography of a black showman-athlete, and as Tye makes the case, one of the finest pitchers ever, who finally was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971. (July)
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Critics agreed that Tye's greatest challenge was to separate the truth of Paige's life from the fiction, promulgated by the shamelessly self-aggrandizing Paige himself. To this end, Tye researched Paige's life thoroughly, scrutinizing source documents from birth records to FBI files and conducting more than 200 interviews with Paige's family and friends. Tye's fondness for his subject is obvious, but that doesn't prevent him from debunking the myths surrounding Paige's life. However, a couple of critics felt that Tye was still too credulous, and others considered some of his arguments a bit tenuous. Though Tye has unearthed some eye-opening information -- for example, Paige was a bigamist -- Satchel
is no racy, tell-all biography but a balanced examination of a legendary athlete and pioneer.