Legendary pitcher Leroy "Satchel" Paige, born in Mobile, Alabama, around 1906, began fine-tuning his arm in his teens and joined his first professional team, the Mobile Tigers, in 1924. Throughout the 1920s and '30s, Paige made a national name for himself pitching both for barnstorming baseball teams and established Negro Leagues clubs, including the Chattanooga Black Lookouts and the Pittsburgh Crawfords.
By the late 1930s, Paige's arm was suffering from the strain of over a decade of year-round pitching. Owner of the Kansas City Monarchs, J. L. Wilkinson, however, created a barnstorming attraction around the famous pitcher known as “Satchel Paige's All-Stars.” Playing games throughout the Midwest, this Monarchs farm team promised fans a chance to watch Paige on the mound for several innings per game.
By 1941, a rejuvenated Paige was called up to be a regular pitcher for the Monarchs, and he led them to a Negro Leagues World Series championship in 1942, supplying three of their four victories over the Homestead Grays. Among Paige's teammates that year were baseball legends Buck O'Neil, who played first base, and pitcher Hilton Smith.
Like fellow Monarchs alum Jackie Robinson, Paige was a pioneer in breaking the color barrier in the major leagues, winning rookie of the year honors with the Cleveland Indians in 1948 at the age of 42. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971, the first Negro Leagues player to receive that honor, and became a beloved and entertaining ambassador for the sport of baseball.
Satchel Paige lived with his wife and children in Kansas City, Missouri, for more than 30 years and died here in 1982. He is buried in Forest Hill Cemetery. Three days before his death, the city honored him with the dedication of Satchel Paige Memorial Stadium at 51st and Swope Parkway.
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