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Don't Look Back: Satchel Paige in the Shadows of Baseball Hardcover – March, 1994

5.0 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Such disparate baseball greats as Dizzy Dean and Bob Feller declared that Satchel Paige was the best pitcher ever. Born shortly after the turn of the century (he was cagey about his birthdate), Paige, who died in 1982, played in the Negro Leagues from 1921 to 1948, jumping from team to team as the salary dictated. He pitched in the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Venezuela and joined many barnstorming tours. Because of his high box-office appeal, Paige commanded top-dollar and was often unpopular with poorly paid teammates. Signing on with the Cleveland Indians in 1948, he helped the team win the world championship that year. On the All-Star squads of 1952 and 1953, he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1971. In this prodigiously researched sports biography, freelance writer Ribowsky astutely captures this complex, often difficult athlete. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Satchel Paige once said that all he had to do to get his arm in shape to pitch was shake hands with the catcher. Like most of Paige's oft-quoted public statements, this one reflects both self-promotion and folk wisdom. While Ribowsky does set the record straight, where possible, as to the facts of Paige's life and baseball career, he wisely recognizes that Ol' Satch really was as close as this century has come to a mythic figure. His phenomenal longevity as a baseball pitcher--first in the Negro Leagues in the twenties and then, finally, in the integrated major leagues, beginning in 1948 at age 42 (more or less)--stands as one of the most remarkable athletic feats in history, especially when the sheer durability of Paige's arm is combined with its effectiveness. Nobody knows for sure just how many games Paige won (he claimed 2,000), but we do know he was 31-4 with the Pittsburgh Crawfords in 1931, pitching 62 consecutive scoreless innings and winning 21 games in a row. Even more amazing than the statistics, though, was the man himself: "the first free agent with an attitude," Paige was a free-living, high-stepping superstar decades before the term was coined. He was also a bitter black man who used the Stepinfetchit image to his advantage in his later years but who never lost a "dissonant anger about being shafted" by the white baseball establishment. Placing Paige's incredible story in the context of the equally fascinating history of black baseball, Ribowsky has created a marvelous piece of Americana and resurrected a genuine American hero--part Babe Ruth, part Will Rogers, but, finally, beyond comparison. Bill Ott

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 351 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (March 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671776746
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671776749
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 9.2 x 6.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,338,550 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
After reading this book, I am utterly convinced that Satchel Paige is as much of a baseball legend as a Ty Cobb or Babe Ruth. This book not only entertains but it fascinates, so much that I would'nt be suprised if someone mistook this biography for a peice of baseball folklore or a non fictitious work designed to capture the imaginations of baseball fans. This book portrays the life of Robert Leroy Satchel Paige in a most interesting way. In some cases he stands biggerthan life portrayed as a demi-god in the face of the gods of Major League Baseball and in some cases his mortality is revealed in the very midst of his immortality, and this is what makes this portrayal so unique.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Growing up a baby boomer, Satch meant two things. Either Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong, or Leroy "Satchel" Paige. Both legends, both virtuosos, both masters of their domain.

This book covers the latter. The title was from his signature piece of wisdom "Don't look back, someone may be gaining on you".

Satchel Paige was born shortly after Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb. He toiled in the Negro Leagues for over twenty years before Bill Veeck finally brought him to Cleveland for the 1948 pennant winning season. His legend was made by playing to huge crowds in Pittsburgh, Newark, and throughout the Carribean. He also "barnstormed", playing with other Negro Leaguers against the major league all-stars.

What I didn't realize was that Satchel Paige was a first rate star, of the magnatude of Babe Ruth and later, Mickey Mantle. He was legendary not only for his performances, but also for his feats. He would pitch sometimes upwards of 120 games per year. He started almost every game for his teams at times during his career. There was no "catching up to the pitcher" after a hitter saw him three or four times. He was always one step ahead of his quarry. His reportoire was endless.

Most amazingly, Paige was a "rookie" at 42 years old, and an all-star at 44. He pitched for Charlie Finley's Oakland A's at age 59, and toiled three scoreless innings against the fearsome lineup of the Boston Red Sox of Yazstremski, Conigliaro, and Petrocelli.

He moved through life in his own rhythm, with his own inscrutable wisdom, and setting his own pace. He disarmed even the most virulent racists with his easy homespun humor.

Paige was a one of a kind star of stratospheric proportions. A household name.

This book is an excellent and informant treatment of his life and times.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Satchel Paige is an enigmatic figure in american histroy. Mention his name, people inevitably think of the negro leagues,or thta terrible bingo long movie.In fact, Paige was ,in many repects, the first modern ballplayer. He played for a percentage of the gate, would only pitch a couple of innings in these contests,had no compuction about jumping from team to team{or country to country}The minstel show,stephifetchit aura that he calculated with the all too eager white press was, of course, a huge ruse. He was a sometimes bitter man{quite understandably so}He knew, instinctively, that he was the best pitcher in the world{although,curiosly, his peers voted Smokey Joe williams better in a 1950 vote in the Pittsburgh Courrier} He despsed the Jim Crow laws, and what he had to do to get around them. HIs civil rights stands were taken in the 20's 30's and 40's, when such things often meant death. He pitched for what might have been the greatest team of all time{the Pittsburgh crawfords of the early 30's] Dimaggio called him ethe toughest pitcher he ever hit against.All of these nuggets are in this book. Mr. Ribowsky did a fine job here. Paige is a figure who should be celebrated for what he was:an american original,a species often sighted but rarely seen. A wonderful book!
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Format: Paperback
This book was very insightful into the life of Satchel Paige and "blackball", which was Negro League baseball. Mr. Ribowsky examines Paige’s struggles, personal and professional. While we in modern times recognize Satchel Paige’s achievements, the society of the early 1900s did not accord him the recognition he deserved. I was moved by Mr. Ribowsky’s description of Paige’s uphill battles and the contrast between his success and that of the White League players. An especially poignant part of Don’t Look Back recounts how no one could properly recall the time and place of Leroy’s (Satchel’s) birth - apparently not uncommon in this time period. I was fascinated throughout this book and recommend it strongly to those who enjoy social and sports history.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I started out not liking this book, and ended up loving it! This book tells the story Satch "forgot" to tell in his Bio...
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