Veeck and Paige–a third time?

27 Feb

In 1959, when Bill Veeck purchased the White Sox rumors swirled in Chicago that the Sox owner was planning on having Satchel Paige start on Opening Day. Later, as the Sox were making a run for their first American League Pennant in 40 years the rumors resurfaced that the ageless Paige would join the White Sox for the Pennant run.

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Bill Veeck and Satchel Paige, 1959

Paige, who had played for Veeck with the Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Browns, had spent 1956-59 with the Miami Marlins in the International League, winning 31 games. He had returned to barnstorming with the Cuban Giants and Indianapolis Clowns in 1959, but it was reported he was looking for another chance in the Major Leagues, and in June it began to be reported again that Paige would be joining the Sox.

A United Press International story in July said that Veeck had “sent Paige two new Chicago White Sox uniforms,” and quoted Paige:

 “If they want me they’d have to pay me big money.  I’m not going back for nothing.”

Whether it was ever a serious discussion, or simply two famous showmen milking rumors for the maximum publicity will never be known, but Veeck and Paige let the rumors swirl well into August before Veeck finally put them to rest, telling Jet Magazine:

“We’re not giving any thought to hiring him.  I’m very fond of LeRoy and I see him whenever he’s in town.  I gave him the uniforms because we’re old friend and for no other reason.”

And with that White Sox fans missed the chance to see the pitcher who Veeck called “The best righthander baseball has ever known,” pitch for the 1959 Pennant winners.

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3 Responses to “Veeck and Paige–a third time?”

  1. erin hovland moffitt January 2, 2014 at 9:13 pm #

    The Cuban Giants team in 1959 was owned by my father Dempsey Hovland. Satchel was being managed by my dad and would be for a few more years, I have happy and fond memories of Mr. Paige his wife and children who spent a lot of time at our home. My father was a barnstormer since the 1930s . He was white ,many of his ball players all barnstormers- baseball and basketball were African American, Cuban, Native American males and females . Barnstorming was a different beast the color barriers were less than in the organized pro teams. Even though the Negro Leagues existed and people of color were banned from the courts and fields with white players the barnstorm teams all played and hung together . There were white black asian pacific ilander jewish teams that played each other more so in basketball ex The House of David ( my father played for them) The Harlem Globetrotters ( my father owned a white women’s barnstorm basketball team that opened for them in the 1950s- 1960s -called the Texas Cowgirls and they only played against men like the Hawaii 50 Staters . My father and LeRoy Paige first met in the 1930s when Satchel had a promotional tour going on with the Globetrotters .

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. “And they Started Hitting like Demons” | Baseball History Daily - September 4, 2013

    […] “Bill Bailey” was the pen name of Bill Veeck Sr., who would become vice-president of the Cubs in 1917, and president of the club in 1919.  He, of course, was also the father of Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Browns and Chicago White Sox owner Bill Veeck. […]

  2. “Throw Strikes. Home plate don’t Move.” | Baseball History Daily - January 19, 2015

    […] Bill Veeck, who had signed Paige with the Cleveland Indians in 1948 and the St. Louis Browns in 1951, told The Times he hoped it wasn’t just a publicity stunt by Finley: […]

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