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Negro baseball brings out a new pitching sensation

DATE OF EVENT: Friday, Sept. 6, 1935

DATE PUBLISHED: Friday, Sept. 6, 1935, in The Kansas City Star

Editor’s note: When the Kansas City Monarchs acquired the contract of “Satchel” Paige, the future Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher, Jackie Robinson and the integration of baseball were still more than 10 years away. The Star seemed regretful that black talent went unrecognized outside the major leagues, however, writing that “big league scouts … wished longingly for some method by which they could transform ‘Satchel’s’ color to get him into the majors.” Paige instead would wait 13 years, until 1948, to sign a contract with the Cleveland Indians and break into the major leagues on his 42nd birthday.

This piece carried initials, rather than a byline, as was common on the sports pages then. Labeled “E.M.,” it was written by Ernie Mehl, a reporter and later sports editor of the newspaper who would play a key role in bringing baseball’s A’s to Kansas City in the 1950s.

The Bismarck team, winner of the national semipro tournament in Wichita, has disbanded for the season and the Monarchs have taken over the contract of one “Satchel” Paige, standing 6 feet 3 ½ inches.

“Satchel” is the Negro “Dizzy” Dean and in one of the exhibition games the Monarchs have arranged for this fall he is likely to face the Cardinal star. Next Sunday when the Monarchs play the touring Chinese stars at Muehlebach Field, “Satchel” will do some of the hurling.

The size of his feet have nothing to do with the name of “Satchel,” which has been pinned on him. That tag was added years ago when he was toting baggage at the depot in Chattanooga. Until then his first name was LeRoy.

In 1928 he started pitching for Birmingham. Since then he has hurled for Baltimore, the Cleveland Cubs, Pittsburgh and Bismarck, and is regarded as the greatest Negro pitcher in baseball. Big league scouts have wished longingly for some method by which they could transform “Satchel’s” color to get him into the majors.

There was the opportunity to see Paige in action at Muehlebach Field Wednesday night when he struck out fifteen of the Monarchs. This feat is simple proof that “Satchel” has a fast ball which looks like a shooting star as it passes the plate.

It wasn’t the first time “Satchel” had burned his fast one past the Monarchs. He defeated them in the final game of the Denver tournament last season, when he hurled for the House of David. In another game, he hooked up with Chet Brewer and struck out seventeen.

His record for strikeouts is eighteen, and hardly a game passes he doesn’t register twelve or more. He hurled Bismarck to a national semipro title. Then Bismarck engaged in a championship series with the Monarchs. Paige didn’t pitch the first game and the Monarchs won. He hurled the second game and Bismarck won. The third game was called off, and the Monarchs acquired “Satchel.” That looked like good business for them.

As imposing as is his record, Paige’s baseball star would have to shine even greater to rival that of Joe Rogan who, if he had been white, probably would have been recognized as one of the greatest players of all time.

Rogan not only was a pitcher with as much stuff as Paige, but he knew the mysteries of hurling. Possessed with an arm of iron, he learned the intricacies of the art. That knowledge was credited to him by all the major league players who batted against him in exhibition games…

What a star Rogan would have been in the majors! ...

There has been some talk of a post-season game between the Blues and Monarchs, and if the game is played Paige probably will hurl for the Monarchs. The Blues will see a fast ball to dazzle them. Whether they could find some way to circumvent that blazer the attempt would make interesting watching.

It will be equally interesting to watch Paige perform against Dizzy Dean and the other league stars in a game which may be played here early in October.