Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Review of "Don’t Look Back: Satchel Paige in the Shadows of Baseball," by Mark Ribowsky

 Review of

Don’t Look Back: Satchel Paige in the Shadows of Baseball, by Mark Ribowsky ISBN 0671776746

Five out of five stars

A biography of the likely greatest

 Overwhelming arguments can be made that LeRoy (Satchel) Paige was the greatest pitcher ever. It is certain that he pitched more professional innings than anyone else and the stories about his speed and control are too numerous to doubt. Hall of Fame players such as Bob Feller, Ted Williams and Lou Boudreau attested to his amazing abilities on the mound.

 The best statement I ever heard about Paige was from a fellow Negro league player. It was, “The Good Lord didn’t give Satchel a right arm, he gave him a whip.” It was also very durable, even when the rest of Satchel’s body was failing him, he could still get quality batters out.

 His story is one of triumph and sadness, the sports world is a better place for his having been a part of it. Yet, it is hard to accurately project how many records he would have held if he had been allowed to play in the major leagues when he was 20. Given his skills and durability, regularly running up 30 wins a season is very possible. As it was, he was still pitching at a quality level in his mid-forties.

 This is a great book about a great player that was forced to play outside of the best circles. Some argue that the reason it took so long for major league baseball to integrate is because the white players knew that they would be outclassed by the blacks from the Negro leagues, especially Satchel. Another major point made is that some of the owners opposed integration on financial grounds. They made a lot of money leasing their stadiums to the Negro leagues and they understood that integration would dry up that particular cash cow.

 While Satch was no angel, his right arm was the closest to heavenly as human flesh can get.

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