“I’m Disappointed in Baseball”

2 Apr

“I don’t want no rockin’ chair, I don’t want no triple-A. I want to pitch in the majors again. I want a chance. I never really had a chance.”

In 1962, 55-year-old Satchel Paige was looking for one last chance.

He talked to Tom McEwen, sports editor of The Tampa Tribune about his frustration while, “on one of those hurry-up barnstorming tours with the Kansas City Monarchs.”

Paige spent a large part of that summer playing for Goose Tatum’s Harlem Stars in dozens of games with Ted Rasberry’s Kansas City Monarchs in the Midwest and South.

Tatum and Paige

Any notion that traveling with those two great stars was glamorous was addressed by a 19-year-old member of the Monarchs, named Eddie Brooks, who told The Charlotte Observer when the teams played there that he was “disillusioned after two months” on tour:

“Somehow I thought it would be different from this. The only reason I’m here is that some major league scout might see me somewhere and give me a chance in organized ball.”

Brooks never got a chance in organized ball, but became a well-known high school basketball coach in his hometown, and more than 50 years later told The Peoria Journal Star the experience with the Monarchs—he also played with the team in 1965–motivated him to finish college:

“I was still a young man, so to see those older guys I looked up to like Satch and Goose out there scrapping for money from town to town, it left an impression on me…I got my rear end back to Macomb (Western Illinois University) to finish the few hours I needed for my degree.”

Brooks with Tatum and Paige

Paige shared Brooks’ frustration:

“Paige doesn’t really like what he’s doing. He doesn’t like the role he’s in. He believes he is a pitcher, not an antique, that his long, remarkably durable arm is still good enough for the big time.

“’I’d rather pitch against Mantle and Maris tomorrow than anything else in the world,’ he said.”

So certain that he could still compete in the major leagues, Paige said:

“Nobody in the world can tell me I can’t hold up my end and if I can’t, they don’t have to pay me a nickel.”

The lack of a chance to prove himself, left him disillusioned:

“I’m really a disappointed man. I’m disappointed in baseball.”

He said that he’d never gotten over his release from the Baltimore Orioles after the franchise relocated from St. Louis:

“I still got that letter. The letter said I was a number one pitcher, but they didn’t want no old men on the team. They said they were going for youth. Well, they ain’t won the pennant yet and I see where clubs are paying $100,000 bonuses for players that never throwed a ball.’

“The time they turned me a-loose, I was in the All-Star game, this is the first time I said this to anybody, but I got to answer back. You asked and I got to answer. The more I think of being turned a-loose, the madder I get.”

Rasberry said Paige had “pitched 159 innings this summer, pitching every night, three or four innings.”

Paige said he could likely throw a lot harder than he was that summer, “if I could have a little rest, As it is you ride and pitch, ride and pitch, sometime 500 to 700 miles between games.”

An ad from the 1962 tour

He admitted he could no longer pitch nine innings, but:

“I’m as good as anybody for five or six, Yes, as good as (Don) Drysdale. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t like to talk about myself. But if I get a chance and I’m wrong, I’ll hush up.”

It took three years for his final chance.

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