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Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,497 Ratings  ·  130 Reviews
He is that rare American icon who has never been captured in a biography worthy of him. Now, at last, here is the superbly researched, spellbindingly told story of athlete, showman, philosopher, and boundary breaker Leroy “Satchel” Paige.

Few reliable records or news reports survive about players in the Negro Leagues. Through dogged detective work, award-winning author and
Hardcover, 392 pages
Published June 9th 2009 by Random House (first published January 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Feb 23, 2016 Jeffrey Keeten rated it really liked it
Shelves: baseball
"Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching."

---Satchel Paige

 photo b2bc5d7a-5518-4b32-b411-7f8e4224df12_zpsm5pqhwjl.png
Notice that Satchel's name is misspelled.

When I was twelve, my Dad found a handful of his Topps baseball cards from the 1950s and gave them to me. Among the cool player’s names were Bob Feller, Yogi Berra, and a lanky black man named Satchel Paige. I pondered on the name Satchel and the name Yogi. How does a guy get a name like Satchel or for that matter Yogi? Later while in coll
Jul 29, 2015 Marla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a baseball fan this was a very enjoyable book for me. I enjoyed learning about Satchel Paige who was a fantastic ball player who pushed the boundaries his entire life.

Living in Kansas City and knowing the President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, I've heard stories over the years about the Monarchs, Satchel Paige and Buck O'Neil. Buck was a supporter of the organization where I work and I missed meeting him by a few months. So, I recognize several names in this book. If you are in Kans
Leroy Seat
Sep 02, 2009 Leroy Seat rated it really liked it
As a lifelong baseball fan and a person who believes in racial equality and the importance of respecting all people, this book was a good read. It was about baseball but also about the struggle for racial equality and respect.

The book probably could have been better organized and the story being told in a non-chronological manner bothered me some--and some of the content seemed a little contradictory. But the book is written in good prose; it flowed well and was a joy to read.

Satchel was certain
Bookmarks Magazine
Jul 30, 2009 Bookmarks Magazine rated it really liked it
Shelves: sept-oct-2009
"Critics agreed that Tye's greatest challenge was to separate the truth of Paige's life from the fiction, promulgated by the shamelessly self-aggrandizing Paige himself. To this end, Tye researched Paige's life thoroughly, scrutinizing source documents from birth records to FBI files and conducting more than 200 interviews with Paige's family and friends. Tye's fondness for his subject is obvious, but that doesn't prevent him from debunking the myths surrounding Paige's life. However, a couple o ...more
Steven Peterson
Jul 25, 2009 Steven Peterson rated it it was amazing
This is a well written biography of baseball legend Satchel Paige. He was finally admitted into the "Negro League" wing, a separate area of Cooperstown from the "real" Hall of Fame.

This ably constructed book, authored by Larry Tye, traces Paige's bittersweet life from birth to death. We see how he grew up and how he began to create his own persona (his last name morphed from Page to Paige, for example).

He began playing professional baseball in the Negro Leagues in Chattanooga in 1926. Early on,
Elizabeth K.
Dec 27, 2009 Elizabeth K. rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009-new-reads
This was decent enough, and certainly an interesting subject. I have a lot of sympathy for the author, for it was apparent that he was caught up in a very understandable quandary involving how much background to include. Can you understand the career of Satchel Paige without understanding the Negro Leagues and can you understand the Negro Leagues without understanding Jim Crow and on and on. It landed in one of those places that is probably too much for some readers and not nearly enough for oth ...more
Aug 21, 2010 Jim rated it liked it
Shelves: baseball, biography
Satchel is the biography of the legendary baseball pitcher Satchel Paige. The stories in this book show Satchel as both an extremely talented athlete, who paved the way for breaking the Major Leagues color barrier and a flawed, hard living everyman. One of my favorite stories is of a batter facing Satchels' pitching who didn't wait for a strikeout call. He walked back to the dugout after taking two called strikes, saying to his manager, "I didn't see the first two. What makes you think I'm goin ...more
Jim Leffert
Satchel Paige’s story is irresistible to anyone who loves baseball or who is interested in American history. His story, remarkable in itself, is intertwined with the colorful history of the Negro Leagues and of the efforts by African-American and white sportswriters and others to integrate Major League Baseball. His story is already well told in a previous biography, Don’t Look Back: Satchel Paige in the Shadows by Mark Ribowsky. Larry Tye’s fine and thorough (at times, though, perhaps too thoro ...more
Jacqui N
Aug 21, 2013 Jacqui N rated it it was amazing
Satchel Paige was a pitcher with legendary skills and longevity. He literally pitched his way out of poverty during his childhood in Mobile, Alabama, rising quickly to the top of the negro leagues. He became a top drawer wherever he went and was literally baseball's first free agent. He knew his worth and commanded impressive earnings. Satchel felt throughout his career he had good enough stuff to excel in the major leagues. Unfortunately, when he finally was called up in 1948 by the Cleveland I ...more
Oct 30, 2010 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Probably the saying most often attributed to Satchel Paige is "Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you." But one of his I like even better than that is "Work like you don't need money. Love like you've never been hurt. And dance like no one is watching." Not bad words to live by, coming from someone with almost no formal schooling.

Satchel Paige was definitely a true American Legend, for the way he played baseball (blackball in the Jim Crow era, and then later in the Major Leagues) and
Jul 12, 2009 Tony rated it liked it
Shelves: baseball
I love baseball. I love books about baseball. And...Satchel Paige! How can someone screw this up? But, this was not great writing. And, if anything, Satchel Paige is diminished in my mind by this book, which I doubt was the author's intent.

At times, the author is investigative reporter, tracking down once and for all the date of Paige's birth. At other times he glides over obvious apocrypha, like the story about a pitch Paige threw, everyone saw it, that no one saw caught. And the last chapter,
Jun 04, 2015 Donna rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, sports
This is a biography of a baseball legend. While I can appreciate the amount of research that went into the writing of this and the sifting process that it must have taken, I didn't care much for the way it was given. Satch sounded like a very colorful and very charming person. I wish the writing was also equal to that.

I did the audio and that might have had something to do with how this settled with me. The narrator sounded a little boring.
Todd Stockslager
Jun 05, 2015 Todd Stockslager rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports
Satchel Paige I remember as a kid being treated as the "clown prince" of baseball, the man with the rubber arm who pitched forever, told funny stories, and always had a funny line for every situation. The black Yogi Berra, if you will.

Tye's excellent biography reveals a complicated man who is perhaps the greatest pitcher ever seen in the 150 years of organized baseball, who had survived poverty and reform school with humor and good graces, while at the same time surviving and suffering under Jim
Mar 30, 2013 Elgin rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Very interesting story about an outstanding (maybe the best) baseball player of all time. His frustrations
dealing with racism and segregation make his story all the more amazing. I remember watching Willie Mays play in the early 1960's. But I did not realize at the time that blacks had been allowed in the majors only 15 years earlier. Larry Tye makes a great case that Paige, not Robinson, should have been the first black player in the majors.
Douglas Graney
Dec 29, 2009 Douglas Graney rated it really liked it
I'm always impressed with writers that demonstrate great research. This is certainly the case with Satchel. Fascinating life and with a lot of the oldtimers, it makes me wonder why current pitchers arms are so fragile. This is also a great history of the Negro Leagues. However there is one HUGE historical error I noticed. See if you do too.
Jun 14, 2016 Elderberrywine rated it really liked it
Shelves: library
So I gotta admit. Baseball is still my favorite sport (I hear you haters out there). Its long contemplative pauses, its unexpected flurries of excitement, well, I just gotta love it. From the time I was 5 years old, sitting with my dad explaining the game in our darkened swamp-coolered room in the middle of July in the desert, listening to Vince Skully's glorious golden tones, baseball was it for me.

So this guy? What an amazing player and person. Probably more influential than even Jackie Robins
May 10, 2016 Anthony rated it it was amazing
This biography of one of baseball's most prolific athletes, showmen, philosopher, and boundary breaker in America's favorite pastime that reveals a history lost to most people. It tells of Leroy "Satchel" Paige's humble beginnings in Mobile, AL through his barnstorming years in the Negro League and his eventually and long awaited call up to the Majors, and his induction into Baseball's Hall of Fame. Filled with familiar and not so familiar names, places and people it tells the story of a man who ...more
Feb 01, 2011 Nick rated it it was amazing
a wonderful poignant bio of satch and his skills. amazing anecdotes and filled with his witty ways to survive life. impossible to understand the segregated world of baseball and the glory owed to him. satchel is indeed larger than life.
Dec 01, 2015 Randal rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Die-hard fans
Shelves: nonfiction, baseball
Great subject, fair book.

I actually wrote a longish paper on black baseball players' autobiographies in grad school many moons ago. This, while a biography, treads much of the same ground (barnstorming, Jim Crow, heyday and collapse of the Negro Leagues). And I've read a stack of bios and autobios since, of which this is pretty middle of the pack. Paige is certainly a character worth a book ... I'm just not sure this is the one.

The Good:
Through the author's hard work, I learned a lot of details
Richard Thompson
Dec 18, 2014 Richard Thompson rated it really liked it
We are not sports fans, but two things brought us to this book: we very much enjoyed Larry Tye's SUPERMAN book and we love Bob Bossin's song, THE SECRET OF LIFE ACCORDING TO SATCHEL PAIGE.

Satchel Paige was an amazing athlete whose career started in the Jim Crow south of the early 20th century and ended just as black ball players were breaking into the white Major Leagues. In Tye's portrait of him, Paige comes across a hard-working, hard-playing, larger-than-life character who is, despite his fa
May 11, 2014 Carolyn rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports
Baseball is full of myth and legend and Satchel Paige embodies both, partly because he spent most of his long career unable to play in the Major Leagues due to the color barrier. One wonders how different his career might have been, but it is hard to imagine he wouldn't have been a compelling figure no matter what. This was a very thorough account of his life and pitching exploits and I was surprised by how many stats were kept even in his earliest days. I was also surprised by how successful he ...more
May 18, 2011 N-rose rated it really liked it
Larry Tye does a great job of telling the "story" of Satchel Paige in all of it's glory; Paige was a storyteller, for sure, and exaggerated fact, obscured fiction, and promoted himself solidly Tye does a great job of seamlessly letting readers know when fact is fact and when fact has some exaggerated branches.

And he's not afraid to hint that Paige may have been a bit of an asshole, a definite womanizer (without coming out and tarring him for it), and a contract-skipping vagabond who wouldn't be
Aug 04, 2011 james rated it really liked it
This is an excellent biography of a great baseball pitcher, born Leroy R Page in Mobile, Alabama on July 7, 1906. Later, and more commonly, he is known as Satchel. There is plentyl of discussion of the spelling of his name (Page or Paige) and even his nickname (one L or two.) Also there is a discussion of the conflicting evidence on his true birth date.

In addition to being a biography of Satchel, this book provides excellent insight into the history of baseball and prticularly the Negro Leagues.
Josh Duggan
Dec 02, 2011 Josh Duggan rated it really liked it
If there has been one good thing about the Royals* only being watchable once every five games or so, it has been that I have found myself with slightly more free time on my hands. Past a cursory look at the standings to see where the Royals are in the running for the Bryce Harper Sweepstakes and trying to catch Greinke’s starts, my time devoted to baseball is shrinking to microscopic proportions.

*I think it is obvious that we’re using the plural form of Royal out of politeness here.

Granted, I no
Dec 31, 2013 Daniel rated it really liked it
This really shot have been a 5 star biography. However, the truths about Satchel will never be fully known or understood. I say truths because there were almost as many Satchels as there were people who admired him, or teams who signed him, or other players who admired or envied him. Some but not all of them are to be found in this book.

This biography starts off very strong with an attempt to unravel the true age of the legendary ballplayer, drawing the reader into an intriguing world that has m
May 07, 2010 Richard rated it really liked it
A biography of Leroy Satchel Paige, a detailed and well written account of this American baseball idol who had to live with segregation both professionally and as a baseball player and personally as a citizen. He is, probably, the greatest American baseball pitcher, ever, black or white. He was a character, not only in what he did, but also in what he said. He was the 3rd black man to play in the Major Leagues and probably should have been the first, but because of his young age, Jackie Robinson ...more
Jun 13, 2013 Tyler rated it liked it
Good biography. The author does his best to sort through the myths to get to a plausible version of the truth and he lays out all the myths and reasoning behind his deductions. It gets into baseball history of MLB and negro leagues and little bits on US south but not too heavy on segregation although it is constant topic. The problem with Biographies is that they can be quite repetitive and Satchel was painfully repititive in his life. Pitch, drive somewhere, get pulled over for speeding, get to ...more
Sep 24, 2013 Theleem rated it really liked it
I've never been one for reading biographies, but as a lifelong baseball fan, I felt compelled to pick up Satchel when I saw it in the local bookstore. While I still had a harder time reading it than I would a novel, I thought that this was a particularly captivating read about one of America's greatest baseball heroes, black or white. Tye does a great job digging through mountains of statistics, newspaper articles, and firsthand accounts of Satchel's life, and portrays the man as he was, in addi ...more
Fausto Betances
Jul 10, 2015 Fausto Betances rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports
Amazing Story! Well written book!
More than baseball, this book presents an outstanding portrayal of the qualities required to endure difficulties and work around the most outrages regimes to find success in the hands that are been dealt to us.
Amazing talent or not, Satchel Paige fought until the end and got in life, early or late, what was initially denied to him and others despite of preexisting limiting conditions.
While racial bias and its consequences are powerful drags, lack of personal wi
Aug 31, 2012 Scott rated it really liked it
Exhaustively researched bio of a very enigmatic figure. Paige may have been the greatest pitcher in baseball history, but it's impossible to know for sure. Due to racial segregation and Paige's natural waywardness, hard facts about his pitching prowess are very hard to come by. This book gathers as much as it can, as well as the endless myths, legends and tall tales about Paige's pitching dominance and sly personality in nearly every one of the United States and several lands abroad. While it's ...more
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