Leroy Robert "Satchel" Paige (July 7, 1906 – June 8, 1982) may have been born anywhere between 1900 and 1908. He may have gotten his nickname as a young baggage-handler from jerryrigging a pole to carry four bags at once - or because he was once caught swiping a suitcase. Depends on who you ask.
Satchel was born in Mobile, Alabama. Entering reform school for shoplifing at the age of 12, he was mentored by Edward Byrd who taught him his loping pitching style. Release early from a five year gig, Satchel went semi-pro. As was common in those days, especially for black players, he played wherever and whenever he could, not only for the team he had a contract with, but off-season games (in Cuba, for example) and “barnstorming” where you might often get to watch a mixed-race game. In 1931 he played for the Cleveland Cubs as part of the Negro League. Playing in a city that also had a white, professional team, had an effect on Paige.
"I'd look over at the Cleveland Indians' stadium, called League Park. All season long it burned me, playing there in the shadow of that stadium. It didn't hurt my pitching, but it sure didn't do me any good."In 1936 Paige was playing for the Pittsburgh Crawfords.
The Cleveland News - Friday, July 3As a member of the Negro League All-Stars he also barnstormed in Cleveland that summer, facing off against 17 year-old Bob Feller. Each pitched three innings, giving up one hit. Feller struck out eight, Paige seven.
Colored Aces to Play Here Sunday
Negro National League baseball will return to Cleveland Sunday with a double-header at League Park between the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords, for years two of the strongest clubs in the loop.
Satchel Paige of the Crawfords rated the biggest crowd pleaser among the colored ball players is expected to pitch one of the two games here. He humiliated the Homestead team two years ago before 12,000 fans, turning them back without a hit.
In 1948 at the age of 42, Satchel Paige joined the Cleveland Indians. He is the oldest rookie in the history of the Major Leagues.
The Cleveland News