Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Satchel Paige pitching at age 58

TRIVIA QUESTION:  Who struck out Satchel Paige in his final at bat in the game described below?  

Bobby Darwin came up during the second season of the Los Angeles Angels as a pitcher. He evidently didn't make that much of an impression and was later converted to an outfielder who had a decent career with the Minnesota Twins and later returning to Chavez Ravine with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He did pitch in three games for the Dodgers going three innings while giving up four runs. His record as an MLB pitcher was 0-1 in four games total. As a hitter he batted .251 over his career, smacking 83 home runs but he also led the league in another dubious category. Three times he struck out more than any other batter in a season, 145, 137 and 127. 

Who was the last player to ever get a hit off the great Satchel Paige? A lot of names might run through your mind considering the man who said he "pitched long enough to put butts in the seats" spent an entire career in the Negro Leagues before becoming a big leaguer in 1948.
Before we answer the question let's set the scenario. In September, 1965 the Kansas City A's signed Paige to a contract. Whether it was a stunt by promoter extraordinaire Charlie O. Finley or whether it was a bonafide (usually with Charlie O., the word is "bonehead") attempt to let the fans get one last look at the grand old man. Either way it was a full treat for everyone in baseball, or anyone who just loves the game.

Paige was signed on the 10th of September at age 58! The A's were long out of the race and were on their way to a 103 loss season and landing in 10th place in the American League, 43 games back of the Twins. They would finish 10th in attendance with barely over half a million fans entering the ballpark. In fact, they rarely drew more than a few thousand people. On September 24th, they only put 2304 fans into Municipal Stadium. 

When it was announced Paige was pitching the night of the 25th, attendance soared. Old Satchel put 9289 "butts in the seats." Four times as many people came out to see the nearly 60 year old hurler compared to the night before. The opponent? The lowly Boston Red Sox who were just four games better than the A's at that point in the season on their way to a ninth place finish.

Satch got the start and for three innings he was untouchable. And that was that. He faced 10 batters in three innings, did not give up a run, struck out one and did not walk a batter. The lone hit was by Red Sox future Hall of Famer, Carl Yasztremski. A harmless double in the first.
Paige began the game getting Jim Gosger to pop out. He ended his string getting Gosger to ground out to short. He faced one over the minimum and was remarkable. He left leading 1-0 in a game the A's eventually lost to Boston, 5-2. He didn't qualify for the win if they had won. He was taken out after three innings with the minimum needed by a starter being five innings. He was relieved for the last time by Diego Segui.
Paige got his final at bat in the big leagues in that game. He struck out.  

Paige's career was legendary. There was talk he would be the first player to break the color barrier but that honor went to Jackie Robinson. Hit finally got his chance with the Indians in 1948 and pitched in the World Series. He was 42 and faced two batters, got them out, and also was called for a balk. A rarity at any level, let alone a World Series game. That season he went 6-1 with a 2.47 ERA.

During his Major League career he saved 33 games, or five more than his 28 wins. He lost 31. His 3.29 ERA was respectable, especially for a pitcher who game to the big leagues at an advanced age. He pitched for four other seasons after the initial rookie year. At age 45 he tossed 138 innings and at age 46 he threw another 117. In 1952 he also tossed a pair of shutouts. 

Paige passed away in Kansas City in 1982 at the age of 76. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1971 as the first of the Hall's Negro League Inductees.
Thank you to those of you who purchased my book after reading this column. It has been appreciated. 

Please share this blog with your friends and colleagues and leave a comment at the bottom of the blog if you have one. Thank YOU VERY MUCH!!

Please pick up a copy of my book "Tales of My Baseball Youth; A Child of the 60's" at, or on Amazon.

No comments:

Post a Comment