August 4, 1948
In a collection of pitchers looking to find a place in the rotation, go ahead and add another one to the list. After seven strong innings on Tuesday evening, Satchel Paige declared his preference to start for the Tribe instead of relieving.
“Startin’ a game is a lot easier than goin’ in to try to save one.”
Paige was sitting in the whirlpool bath talking with reporters when the final out was recorded in the ninth inning. When the crowd of 72,434 cheered and the final out was recorded the ageless Alabaman just smiled largely.
“They ain’t playin’ no mo so I guess I got one,” he said.
At 43, or maybe 41, years of age, Paige had not made a start for his Negro League team, the Kansas City Monarchs, or the Indians this season before last night. Paige made eight relief appearances before taking the mound Tuesday night. Despite some wildness early, Paige allowed just three runs on seven hits and six strikeouts. His four walks were two more than he had in 18 innings of relief.
“My left leg’s a little sore,” continued Paige. “Bothered my control some but I’ll be all right.”
Indians manager Lou Boudreau did not say if, or when, Paige would see a next start, but it seems likely that he will in four or five days. After that performance, and the Tribe’s shaky starts since the All-Star break, Paige will have to be considered to join the rotation of Bob Lemon, Bob Feller, Gene Bearden and Sam Zoldak. Despite Paige’s age, he feels he has enough strength to start every fourth day for the Tribe.
“Every four days,” Paige questioned. “I used to start every second day and then do relief in between. Why that every four days would be a vacation.”
Paige, a Negro League legend and likely the greatest pitcher in their history’s game, has eight to ten different pitches he’ll throw in a game. However, last night he did not use his famous “hesitation” pitch to entertain the crowd. He says that’s a pitch reserved for blowout games, not last night’s tightly contested affair.
“This pitchin’s a serious business with me – it’s been that for 21 years.”
“Well not very many more than that anyway,” Paige said.
Photo: AP Photo/George Brace