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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Incredible "Paige" in American History
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...
Published on June 9, 2009 by Best Of All

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A hitch in his swing
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...
Published on May 8, 2011 by Cort Mcmurray


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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Incredible "Paige" in American History, June 9, 2009
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.

"Satchel actually had been challenging Jim Crow ever since he took his pitching on the road," writes Tye, "and he did that from the beginning. They called freelance play like that barnstorming, to distinguish it from formal league games."

Paige was the ultimate free agent, with his services being "rented out" by his team to other clubs and playing winter ball in the Caribbean. He was also accused of skipping out on contracts when better offers came his way.

Before he was the "Yankee Clipper," Joe DiMaggio - the Pacific Coast League's Most Valuable Player - proved he belonged in MLB in February 1936 after facing Paige, who was asked to pitch in the exhibition game by the New York Yankees. "DIMAGGIO ALL WE HOPED HE'D BE. HIT SATCH ONE FOR FOUR," is the post-game report from a Yankee scout to management.

Tye places particular emphasis on the 1930s, which was a decade of great triumphs and a hideously hard fall from the summit of sports. Franchise owner Neil Churchill brought Paige to Bismarck, North Dakota, in 1933 and 1935 to play on his integrated club. In one of the greatest pro games ever, more than 27,000 fans in Yankee Stadium in 1934 watched a spectacular duel between Paige and Stuart "Slim" Jones. And owner J.L. Wilkinson of the Kansas City Monarchs removed Paige from the scrap heap in 1938 and 1939 when arm woes appeared to have destroyed his career.

The 1945 re-integration of MLB by Jackie Robinson with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Paige's July 7, 1948, signing with the Cleveland Indians and stints with the St. Louis Browns and - in 1965 - Kansas City A's are packaged well with the 1971 induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum. And upon reflection in the twilight years, Paige tackled numerous issues surrounding the hateful treatment of NLB players, racism and the slights he personally felt in any number of venues.

"It happens to lots of leading men as they fade into supporting roles. Loneliness sets in, along with sadness," Tye writes. "There is more time to remember all you have achieved and to wonder why others have forgotten. There are endless hours to tally who stood by you, and who failed to. Satchel had suffered enough real indignities to keep anyone thinking for a long time."

The victories and defeats on the field of play by Paige are chronicled in four pages of pitching statistics. But what Tye proves beyond a shadow of a doubt is the biggest win of them all came when Jim Crow couldn't get the bat off its shoulder when Paige fired three blazing fastballs for called strikes.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Bittersweet Biography of an All-time Great, June 22, 2009
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.

Throughout the rest of his life, Paige always displayed a charisma and effervesence rarely seen by anyone, in any walk of life. His stories about the Negro Leagues, with players such as Josh Gibson, Buck O'Neal, Cool Papa Bell, among others, brought them to life for me. It also reminded me of the injustice these greats had to endure because this country was too narrow-minded to accept the African American into the game, until it was too late to make a difference to Paige and other players of his era.

This book is destined for greatness; Tye brings to life a wonderful story of one of baseball's legendary athletes; who was perhaps born a quarter century too soon to achieve greater fame and glory. Hopefully, this book will educate an entire generation of baseball fans about the bittersweet life story of Satchell Paige; an American legend.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A hitch in his swing, May 8, 2011
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This review is from: Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend (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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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tye Delivers A "Paige-turner" With Something For Everyone, June 27, 2009
If you ignore this book simply because you were NOT a sports lover or like me had never heard of Satchel Paige before, you are doing yourself and those around you a great disservice. SATCHEL is the result of a skillful writer who is able to take the life of someone great and give it to readers in a way that inclues something for everyone.

Who couldn't relate to a man who can from nothing, wasn't supposed to become anything and was able to build a brand name for himself that would appeal and inspire so many. That is what Satchel Paige did, and that is what his story will continue to do. I learned from this biography that success is not just what you have achieved for yourself, but what you have been able to give to others through your life.

We see a man who inspite of all of his accomplishments, was still plagued by the ghosts of his past. Who couldn't relate to that?

Kudos to Larry Tye for taking us inside the man and not just inside the sport. I think everyone who picks up this book and really digest it will be a better man or woman because of it.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible page-turner about the mystical, magical SATCHEL PAIGE, June 23, 2009
As a boy I knew the stories of Satchel Paige. I wondered if they were all true. In middle school I watched 8mm film footage of his fluid pitching mechanics. And in high school I read the following "To Satch" poem by Samual Washington Allen:

Sometimes I feel like I will never stop
Just go on forever
Till one fine mornin
I'm gonna reach up and grab me a handfulla stars
Swing out my long lean leg
And whip three hot strikes burnin down the heavens
And look over a God and say
How about that!!!!

But it wasn't until I picked up this book and whipped through it faster than a Paige fastball that I realized the full magnitude this remarkable man left on baseball and life.
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14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, April 6, 2010
By 
T. Jenkins "Serious" (West of Medical Center, South of Highland) - See all my reviews
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. Tye never fully addresses Satchel's misdeeds, he wastes no effort in recounting for us the shortcomings of Josh Gibson both those confirmed and those that are and probably will always remain a matter of speculation. This is one of the more disappointing aspects of the book. Somehow the author misses the irony of arguing how deserving Satchel was of breaking the color line despite a career based on unpredictability. He also intimates that Satchel's success in building a loyal white fan base somehow was instrumental in the fight for civil rights. I would argue Satchel's antics actually had the opposite effect. In all due respect to Mr. Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry "the real stepin fetchit" who unlike Paige knew when to cut the act and conduct himself as a man of strength and character. I suppose we can chock this up to the three years Perry spent studying at St. Joseph's College in Montgomery, Alabama. Nonetheless, you get the point. While Satchel shuffled and skipped out on his obligations, he was reinforcing the long held notion that black men were childlike and irresponsible.

We are best served viewing Satchel as a tremendous baseball talent, yet when it comes to professionalism, morality and the civil rights struggle lets not fall into the trap of hero worship and falsely construct an image of Satchel that is historically inaccurate.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The bittersweet life of Satchel Paige, July 25, 2009
By 
Steven A. Peterson (Hershey, PA (Born in Kewanee, IL)) - See all my reviews
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This is a well written biography of baseball legend Satchel Paige. He was finally admitted into the "Negro League" wing, a separate area of Cooperstown from the "real" Hall of Fame.

This ably constructed book, authored by Larry Tye, traces Paige's bittersweet life from birth to death. We see how he grew up and how he began to create his own persona (his last name morphed from Page to Paige, for example).

He began playing professional baseball in the Negro Leagues in Chattanooga in 1926. Early on, his strong right arm made an impression. His career progressed, until he joined the mighty Pittsburgh Crawfords, which included such greats as Cool Papa Bell, Judy Johnson, Oscar Charleston, and Josh Gibson. Early on, Paige enjoyed spending money at a pace greater than the amount that he earned. This was a practice for most of his life, leading to a rather lugubrious period of time in the latter part of his life, when he was unable to support himself and his family very well and would do almost anything to earn a buck.

One way of earning extra money? Jumping teams to go with someone who would pay more. Or barnstorming in the winter against teams led by major leaguers such as Dizzy Dean. Or playing ball in the Caribbean area. Given how many innings Ol' Satch pitched, it is stunning that he only suffered serious arm trouble once.

His career on the downside, he finally had a chance to play major league baseball, when Bill Veeck signed him to play with the Cleveland Browns. Although past his peak, he provided valuable pitching in the team's pennant run. He played for several more years in the big leagues before he was let go. After that, minor league pitching, barnstorming, and the like. His final major league performance was with the Oakland Athletics (under the ownership of the colorful Charles Finley).

This isn't just a book about Satchel Paige as a baseball player. It also explores his (sometimes less than admirable) relationships with women, his distance from many of the people he worked with, a kind of lone wolf approach (he would drive managers nuts by not riding from one city to another with the team, but by driving his own car).

Again a fine book about the bittersweet life of Satchel Paige. Well worth looking at if you have an interest in the subjects covered here.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Satchel the Myth-Maker, November 9, 2009
Larry Tye's book on Satchel reminds me of a biography of Scott Joplin I once read in that both men were of largely undocumented mythic proportions. Both men were itinerant performers and entertainers who did not garner the attention from the white media until their legends had already been made, forcing historians and biographers who followed to rely on oral history and the scanty references they find in unlikely sources to recreate their lives. In "Satchel: the Life and Times of an American Legend," Larry Tye finds the right balance between the folklore of Satchel's life and the social history of the times in which he lived, the age of segregation and Jim Crow "laws." I finished the biography believing that Satchel's greatness would have been supported by the numbers had someone been around to record them. However, we don't have much primary material to go by except for Satchel's own telling of his tale and the interviews with his contemporaries. But that doesn't matter much because the author has recreated the tone and timbre of Satchel's being. How I wish I could transport myself to Bismarck in the 1930's to watch Satchel throw his slow-delivery fastball over the top of his shoe! If you want to feel what the life of a Negro itinerant ballplayer was like in the 30's and 40's and understand how Satchel performed much of the "leg work" for Jackie Robinson and the young black players to follow, read Larry Tye's biography of Satchel.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It's really rather boring, September 8, 2009
By 
Edward Amos Dr (memphis, tennessee United States) - See all my reviews
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Having some familiarity with Paige and his era of baseball (blackball as Tye keeps referring to it), I found the book to be unfocused and not containing a very good story line. I blame the author more than the subject. As a very young boy, I read the "Dont Look Back" book, which is probably an autobiography in the loosest of sense, but found it far more enjoyable and urge anyone interested in Satchel to look that one up first. Tye begiins his book by apologizing for using what we now find racially archaic terms, and that pretty much sets the tone for what follows. The book is probably best suited for the casual baseball fan, but if you already knew a bit about Satchel Paige, it is a dissappointment.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Satchel, July 5, 2009
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From beginning to end I couldn't put the book down. I remember when Satchel joined the Cleveland Indians. My Dad took me to my first game and it was the night Satchel pitched his first start in the show. Over 70,000 showed up for the game. Bill Veeck couldn't believe the crowd that came.
For a guy with limited education, Satchel knew the show business side of baseball and it exploited it to his advantage. To bad that he didn't pitch in the Majors during his prime. Great reading for baseball fans.
Ed Limbach
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Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend
Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend by Larry Tye (Paperback - May 4, 2010)
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