“ ‘Wish We Had Satchel Paige to Pitch Pay-Off Game for Us,’ Tiger Players Say”
October 8, 1940
Cincinnati, Ohio, Oct. 7–With their star pitchers, Newsom, Bridges and Rowe, insufficiently rested for the seventh and critical game of the world series, the cry “Satchel Paige could win for us” rose in the Tiger dressing room this afternoon after the Detroit team lost, 4 to 0, to the Cincinnati Reds. Schoolboy Rowe started it when he called “it looks as if Satchel Paige will pitch for us at 1:30 tomorrow.” Buck Newsom, Tigers’ pitching hero who hails from South Carolina, took it up, saying, “I wouldn’t mind seeing him pitch. He’s one of the greatest in the country. I pitched against him many times out on the coast and only beat him once and then when he had only one day’s rest.”
Rowe chimed in with the remark that McMullen, a catcher, then playing in California, never hit a foul of Paige in half a dozen games. Newsom added: “Charlie Gehringer was the only one who could hit him. He’s got great stuff and we could use him right now. [Tigers catcher] Birdie Tebbetts joined in the praise for Paige saying that he remembered the screen test baseball handicap in 1933 and also in again 1934 when Paige was the outstanding star.
This call for the great Negro pitcher who Buck Newsom called the Negro Rube Waddell came as Del Baker, manager of the Tigers frankly admitted that the Detroit pitching situation was desperate and that he could only pick a pitcher out of his hat.
The next day, October 9, the Tigers lost the seventh game and the Series to the Reds by a score of 2 to 1.
I came across this news story while doing research (unrelated to sports or baseball) in the Daily Worker in the New York Public Library.
I was surprised to find that the paper, which was priced at five cents and was eight pages long during the 1940s (it was published from 1924 to 1958), was, it seems, an excellent, well written paper, despite its dogmatism and rigid adherence to the Stalinist party line (it was published by the Communist Party USA). It was, besides being totally pro-USSR, very much the champion of workers and unions; and it was against arbitrary exercises of government power as a means of suppression, including abuses by the police. The Daily Worker back then was ahead of its time in that it was very much pro-civil rights — something which can be clearly seen in articles about abuses such as lynchings, targeting of blacks by the police and legal system, and many other examples of discrimination. The paper advocated the desegregation of professional sports.
I recall, I am certain, seeing Satchel Paige pitch once in a televised game. He pitched in the 1953 All Star Game — I was too young then to have watched the game. What I must certainly be remembering is the following game, about which I do not recall any details:
In 1965, Kansas City Athletics owner Charles O. Finley signed Paige, 59 at the time, for one game. On September 25, against the Boston Red Sox, Finley invited several Negro league veterans including Cool Papa Bell to be introduced before the game. Paige was in the bullpen, sitting on a rocking chair, being served coffee by a “nurse” between innings. He started the game by getting Jim Gosger out on a pop foul. The next man, Dalton Jones, reached first and went to second on an infield error, but was thrown out trying to reach third on a pitch in the dirt. Carl Yastrzemski doubled and Tony Conigliaro hit a fly ball to end the inning. The next six batters went down in order, including a strikeout of [Red Sox pitcher] Bill Monbouquette. In the fourth inning, Paige took the mound, to be removed according to plan by [Athletics manager] Haywood Sullivan. He walked off to a standing ovation from the small crowd of 9,289. The lights dimmed and, led by the PA announcer, the fans lit matches and cigarette lighters while singing “The Old Gray Mare.” — Wikipedia
I remember every one of the Red Sox players.
— Roger W. Smith