Red Smith on Baseball

I’m currently reading a compilation of Red Smiths articles (He was one of the first media guys elected to the HOF) and I thought I’d share something he wrote…with a couple of comments after…

This pedestrian took a ride yesterday in the glittering maroon Caddillac of another of baseballs proved pros, one Leroy Satchelfoot Paige, who pitches for the Kansas City Monarchs against the New York Black Yankees at Yankee Stadium tonight.
The Satchel, whos been wheeling the high hard one through here for 19 years, says he’s only 39and good for 6 or 7more years of almost nightly work averaging 4 innings per hitch 8 months a year. Hes a blithe and cocky sliver of midnight without a touch of gray in mustache or poll.
“Its runnin a club makes you gray headed”, he says. “Could you age whiskey like you age a manager you have 2000 proof within a week”.
Kansas City pays Satchel $1000 a month plus 10% of gates in all big parks, bringing his possible earnings to $20,000 and up. He’d still like a big league chance but not at a rookies salary.
“Ain’t no doubt I could win pitchin relief every day. Name off one of you guys can hit 3 deliveries like I throw, overhand, sidearm and underhand”.
His first manager, Bill Blakewell, taught him control, making him warm up with a baseball as his target instead of a plate. “If I’d be 5 inches off center, why that’d still be a strike but he’d give me hell. Today I can lay a cigarette paper down and pitch across it 7 times out of 8. Never been sore oncedown in Mexico in 1937”. Like Joe Louis, only one arm like this comes along in 50 years.
This was written August 1st 1946, my comments are this…first, Jackie Robison was the first but only because they wouldn’t pay Satchel enough (Josh Gibson I’d also suppose) rookie pay was $5,600 in those days, second and I want all you guys to think about this…I saw Satchel Paige pitch for the Atlanta Braves in the 60’s, Red said he had been a pro for 19 yrs in 1946, quite possibly he pitched as a pro for 40 years+…
This game is unreal for it’s heros.

One other note, and I’m going to attempt to do this periodically from now on, if you would like to read this book, pm me an we’ll work out getting it to you (Thanks to Steven) I only ask that the book be passed on to another who is interested and not sold or trashed…this particular book was autographed by the guy who compiled it.

40 years? That’s hard to believe as a pitcher. Of course nowadays, pitchers are much more fragile (higher velo) and controlled/regimented so much that it can be harmful…

Interesting article