If I had to name a Second Favorite Baseball Player of All Time behind Jackie Robinson, it would be Satchel Paige. No doubt. I’ve known of and about him almost as long as I’ve known about baseball and he was truly amazing.
As it just so happens out there on the internut, I was moseying through my twitter feed yesterday and I found that my friend Tony Pierce had retweeted an amazing career highlights poster (at right, click to biggify) of the immortal Paige that an artist the name of Scott Hodges (@IAmScottHodges) had lovingly created.
Of course I combed through it slowly reacquainting myself with Paige’s illustrious career. And afterward, given the nostalgia I have for the long-gone Wrigley Field that stood as the home of the Los Angeles Angels until the ’60s at Avalon and 41st Street in South Los Angeles, I posted a comment if anyone might know if Paige had pitched at that venerable old baseball stadium.
Wouldn’t you know this afternoon I found I got answers back from another Twitter user @HeavyJ. The first was a little vague, a short article, but the second one a video knocked my socks off as legit. The article was about Paige with Cleveland pitching in a spring training game in March 1949 against the Cubs in Los Angeles. I’m a bit of a stickler for detail and it’s relatively well known that from the 1920s through early 1950s (except during WWII) Cubs spring training and games took place at their facility in Avalon on Catalina Island. The article doesn’t specify the location, so that may have been wehre Paige was at and not Wrigley Field.
The second answer was a link to a YouTube clip titled “Rare Satchel Paige Color Footage: From the Academy Film Archive,” which was described as “…16mm film preserved by the Academy Film Archive features rare color footage of the legendary Satchel Paige pitching in an exhibition baseball game at Wrigley Field, Los Angeles on November 7, 1948.”
Mind. Blown. I mean, written proof is one thing, but the odds were kray of there being actual video from 72 years ago to answer my question definitively!
PS. It’s worth noting that later in that year of 1948, 21 years after he had made his Negro League debut in 1927 with the Birmingham Black Barons, Paige made his Major League Baseball debut at 42 years old as the oldest “rookie” ever. He went 6-1 with two shut outs. He refused to be considered “Rookie of the Year.”
But I digress. Folks who go back a ways with me might recall my deep affinity for what was Wrigley Stadium, including it as a last stop on my long-dormant Watts Happening bike rides to regale those in attendance with the loooong story of the Los Angeles Angels franchise, and the ancient history of the likes of young Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams being some of the future legends who had played against the Angels there in the Pacific Coast League. Heck I even once went to some painstaking triangulatory topographical detail (http://www.wildbell.com/2010/06/20/finding-home/) to determine that while the old home plate is now covered up by a building, the area where the mound once stood is accessible in the parking lot.
It’s the mound you can see Paige standing on in the below embed of the video (or you can watch it via its YouTube link). It’s really an incredible bit of film with wonderful shots of the crowd, the stadium and yeah, that’s MGM head honcho Louis B. Mayer seen multiple times in the stands.
It’s an honor and a privilege knowing now that Paige, one of the greatest that ever was, once stood upon it.