Sunday, August 02, 2009

Satchel: The Life and TImes of an American Legend

Warning! The link to this book is in the only format that Amazon has available: the Kindle. The Kindle is an electronic book reading device that can download digital material without a computer. It has a cellular modem inside and can "phone" into Amazon wirelessly and download the books directly to the device. If you are interested in purchasing or are even thinking about it, I will link the device in the sidebar.

This audio book was read by Dominic Hoffman, and was 13 hours and 37 minutes long. I obtained it for free from my public library and their vendor, Overdrive Audio.

Satchel Paige began playing pro baseball in the old Negro Leagues back in the 1920s. He was only 18 and had just spent 6 years in a reform school where he got some coaching from a man who worked for the institution. He was a success almost immediately, and had a long and profitable career playing for many teams, including the ad hoc barnstorming teams that often included white major leaguers in the off season. This is where we get an idea of just how good Satchel Paige really was, and Larry Tye's long overdue report on the career of one of baseball's most enduring legends makes a compelling case that he may have been one of the greatest pitchers of all time.

This story is also of Satchel, the man, who made a lot of money in baseball and was as bad at managing it as anyone who has ever played any game professionally. He loved to play ball, and would have played for the rest of his life if he could. He depended on it, since he spent money like the paydays would go on forever.

It's also a story of the times he lived in, and how he contributed to the slow awakening racial equality in America. Satchel had played the roll of the amiable Negro for so long that it wasn't until he had been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971 that he began to sound off about racial unfairness and how he had been mistreated by those who ran the game he loved.

I gave this book 4 stars for its thoroughness and the fascinating topic of the man whose career I was too young to watch.

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