49 Years Ago, Satchel Paige Shut Out The Red Sox For Three Innings.
No Big Deal, Except That He Was 59
To hold “a day” for a ballplayer years after he last played in the major leagues is a special treat for the player. What makes it even more special is when the player participates in the game.
Forty nine years ago on September 25, 1965, Satchel Paige stepped on to the field at Kansas City’s Municipal Stadium on Satchel Paige Night as the starting pitcher for the Kansas City Athletics. It was supposed to be a publicity stunt conceived by Athletics owner Charlie Finley to boost attendance, but Paige took his pitching seriously and would not be embarrassed.
Paige considered by many to be the Negro League’s best pitcher for over two decades, came to the Major Leagues when he was 42-years-old in 1948 when he was signed by Indians owner Bill Veeck.
Paige went 6-1 with a 2.48 ERA that year and helped Cleveland win the pennant. Paige stayed in the majors until he was 46 and continued playing in the minors and barnstorming into the early 1960’s.
At Satchel Paige Night, Charlie Finley had provided a rocking chair for Paige to sit in before the ball game began and a nurse was stationed next to Paige to massage him and keep his arm loose.
The visiting Boston Red Sox did not lay down for Paige. They tried, but the crafty 59-year-old was not going to let a bunch of kids show him up on his own night.
In the first three innings the Red Sox managed to get a runner on with an error and a double by Sox star Carl Yastrzemski.
At the beginning of the fourth inning with the A’s winning one to nothing, Paige went to the mound but was removed by manager Haywood Sullivan and given a standing ovation by the crowd of 9,289. Paige’s final line read: no runs, one hit, no walks, and one strike out.
The Athletics ended up losing the game 5-2 and finished the season a week later in last place with a 59-103 record.
Major League Baseball fans were deprived of seeing how great Satchel Paige was during his prime because of segregation, but the ballplayers knew. Joe DiMaggio called Satchel Paige “the best and fastest pitcher I’ve ever faced.” When Mickey Mantle was asked who was the hardest pitcher for him to hit, he replied, “Satchel Paige.” Many Negro Leaguer’s who played against Paige would be in agreement with those assessments.
This one pitching performance by Paige in 1965 has to be viewed as one of the most amazing and greatest of all time.