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Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend Paperback – May 4, 2010

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; F First Paperback Edition edition (May 4, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812977971
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812977974
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #444,062 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

A great read and highly reccomended.
Garry Flora
I was very familiar with Paige's Major League statistics and his limited performance during his brief MLB tenure.
M.S. Hennessy
This is a well written biography of baseball legend Satchel Paige.
Steven A. Peterson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Best Of All on June 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
With impeccable scholarship and a meticulous understanding of American history, author Larry Tye delivers a definitive exploration of Satchel Paige in Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend (June 2009, Random House).

Delving into the myths, legend and actual facts surrounding arguably the greatest professional pitcher ever, Tye paints an incredible portrait that began on July 7, 1906, when Leroy Robert Paige was born in Mobile, Alabama, and will forever be a part of pop/sports culture, though he passed away on June 8, 1982, after battling emphysema for a number of years.

"I ain't ever had a job. I just always played baseball," says Paige, which adeptly summarizes an amazing career on the diamond at a time when the only ball was white, through the re-integration of Major League Baseball to 1968, when the Atlanta Braves took a major step to right a wrong that would have left the superstar who gave so much without a pension.

But before Paige became the iconic ace on the mound, he had early brushes with truancy, which did not destroy the care and concern from his mother, Lula Paige. Mentors like Edward Byrd, Alex Herman, Big Bill Gatewood brought him an understanding in the art of pitching. Paige went from being released from reform school (1923), to playing semi-pro ball in Mobile (1924) to signing his first pro contract in 1926.

And it was then that Paige's cunning strategy on the field, quick wit and unique charm disarmed racists and made him one of the greats in the various manifestations of the Negro Leagues and barnstorming tours with MLB (white) players. The tours with Dizzy Dean became huge draws and fueled the growing fascination of the right-hander who was already larger-than-life.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Larry Underwood on June 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Larry Tye delivers a wonderful story of the legendary Satchel Paige, perhaps the greatest pitcher of all-time, who was denied national adulation for the bulk of his professional career; toiling in relative obsurity in the Negro Leagues, before finally getting called up to the Big Leagues, with Cleveland in 1948. He was 42.

It's difficult to imagine how many games Paige might've won had he been allowed to pitch in the Major Leagues during the peak of his physical abilities, with a good or bad team. It wouldn't have mattered. Just like Steve Carlton won 27 games for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1972---an otherwise moribund team---Paige may have done as well or better. The sad reality is he never had the chance.

However, this was a man who didn't mourn his unfulfilled potential in the spotlight. His charismatic personality was infectious, and radiated a charm that made him a national icon during his brief Major League career. His "rookie" season, he won 6 out of 7 starts, with a 2.48 earned run average for the World Champion Cleveland Indians. It's doubtful they would've made it to the Series without Satchell Paige.

Perhaps even more remarkable was the year Paige put together for the old St Louis Browns (a horrible team) in 1952, when he posted a 12 and 10 record with an e.r.a. slightly over three; at the tender age of 46. Just to prove how amazing this man was, he even pitched three innings of shut-out ball for the Kansas City A's, in 1965. He was only 59. I'll never forget reading that story in the newspaper as a youngster, thinking that anyone over 40 was half-dead; but 59? I became an instant fan of this gregarious celebrity.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Cort Mcmurray on May 8, 2011
Format: Paperback
There is very little here that anyone who's studied the Negro Leagues won't already know. Satchel was, like many gifted athletes, selfish, mercurial, and opportunistic. He also comes across as somewhat bloodless in this treatment. There are also some strange errors: there's a reference to a 1949 article in "Sports Illustrated", but SI wasn't published until 1954. In one season in the early Thirties, Satchel was said to have pitched in "every state in the Union, except Maine and Boston." There are several of these little mistakes, which belie an editorial laziness. The unabridged audio version is a mess: the narrator mispronounces names (Bill Veeck is called "Bill Veek", all the more aggravating when you consider that the title of Veeck's legendary memoir is a pronunciation guide for his surname: "Veeck, As In Wreck") and proper nouns ("caliph" is rendered "ka-leef"); and when he reads the chapter on Satchel's time playing for Dominican strongman Raphael Trujillo's ball club, well, he takes Spanish to places it's never been before.

I think Satchel himself would prefer "Bingo Long and the Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings" to this slightly dessicated retelling of his life.
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful By T. Jenkins on April 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Having more than a passing interest in the Negro leagues, I sat down and anxiously tore into what I'd hoped would be more than just another fawning half-hearted attempt to justify the exclusion of talented figures such as Mr. Paige from the professional ranks. I say professional ranks loosely as I would argue that the talent level combined with the unconscionable work, travel and social conditions the Negro leaguers routinely endured required a greater concentration of skill and discipline than their counterparts in the Majors. Nonetheless I quickly became disenchanted as the author fell into a pattern of building the case why Satchel should have been the first to integrate the majors while ignoring time and again personality flaws that made him a fan favorite yet did little to endear him to the owners and controllers of the negro league franchises. A funny thing it is indeed to read how Satchel railed against the negro league owners and complained of their frugality while openly seeking the favor of the major league owners and managers who refused to have anything to do with him outside of the off season sideshow. In essence, good ole Satch was good for a few laughs and a little extra doe in the off season yet I seriously doubt his absences, tardiness and overall unpredictability would have been tolerated had the call to integration come in the mid 30s instead of late 40s.

Again contradictions and selfishness were the theme of Satchel's career as he expressed no concern for the fans he disappointed or the teammates whose paydays he risked when he decided to pursue other avenues despite scheduled obligations elsewhere. Again this is an aspect of the the Paige story that the author either chooses to ignore or never considers. While Mr.
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