Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend
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Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  891 ratings  ·  106 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...more
Hardcover, 392 pages
Published June 9th 2009 by Random House (first published January 1st 2009)
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Leroy Seat
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...more
Steven Peterson
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,...more
Bookmarks Magazine
"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
Jim
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
Elizabeth K.
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
Barry
Larry Tye did an excellent job of writing about the myth and legend of the man Leroy Satchel Paige. From his impoverished upbringing in the Jim Crow city of Mobile, Alabama to the black reform school at Meigs, Alabama, to the baseball Hall of Fame, Tye covers all the foibles that made up the legend of Satchel. Few of the baseball fans in America ever saw Paige play because of Jim Crow laws and the segregationist attitude of Major League Baseball. That was both Paige and baseball's loss. Paige's...more
Jacqui N
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
Brian
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...more
Vicki
In one of the sports literature arenas that already boasts many seminal works of great storytelling and rhapsodic prose, Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend, by Larry Tye is a distinguished, inviting and elucidating addition. The book captures a pivotal time in the evolution of baseball and of North American society. As if there isn't already a motherlode of stories and milestones to make that a captivating read, this book is rendered even livelier because it focuses on arguably th...more
Elgin
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
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.
Nick
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.
N-rose
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...more
james
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....more
Josh Duggan
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...more
Daniel
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...more
Richard
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
Tyler
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
Theleem
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
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...more
Scott
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
Richard
I was looking forward to this new biography as I have a vague memory of seeing him when I was just learning about baseball. Whether in fact I saw him or am just suffering from one of those ‘recovered memories,’ I’m not sure.

Anyway, initially I was disappointed by this book. When I finished it, I didn’t feel I ‘knew’ Leroy “Satchel Paige in the way say I felt I ‘knew’ Lincoln from Ronald White’s recent biography.

I certainly learned a lot about Satch from Tye’s biography, and a good deal about the...more
Gerald Sinstadt
An isolated burial place in a Kansas City cemetery is named Paige Island. There lies Leroy Robert Paige, black baseball pitcher of indeterminate age. A graveside memorial bears the words, "Leroy became Satchel. And Satchel became a legend."

Like many another who came to baseball late, rather than having it deposited at my side in the cradle, I believed, as is often claimed, that the black breakthrough into whites-only baseball was made by Jackie Robinson. As far as Major League Baseball goes, tru...more
Michael
It’s been so long since I read this, I think Satchel was still playing. What I recall from two extremely long months ago was that Tye seemed to do a swell job of sifting through the mounds of BS and innumerable “half-truths” surrounding the Paige story – many questionable legends straight from the pitcher’s own two autobiographies…themselves often contradictory. It’s one of those classic riddles stuck inside an enigma wrapped by lousy journalism and I think that, while necessarily incomplete, th...more
Spiros
Jun 08, 2010 Spiros rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: those who like their heroes slightly larger than life
Larry Tye has a good story tell, and he tells it very well. In exhaustively debunking much of the legend of Leroy Robert "Satchel" Paige (or Page), starting with establishing his true date of birth as July 7, 1906 (which had already been established in 1948, when Satchel joined the Cleveland Indians), he reveals much of Satchel's greatness. The manner in which he battled Jim Crow, and the way in which he promoted Negro Leaugue ball, make it all the more poignant that he was not to be the first p...more
Jeff Scott
Some of my first books were juvenile sports biographies. When my class
would go to the school library, I would pour over the section and read
about Franco Harris and Jim Brown (no I am not that old, but the
library was small). I think my favorite was reading about Franco
Harris' Immaculate Reception. These stories are very white washed of
controversy. As in the Harris case, it has been claimed that his reception was illegal, but the referee was not about to tell a screaming capacity crowd of Pittsbur...more
Tony
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,...more
David
Larry Tye captures the Zelig-like qualities of this singular ballplayer in his exhaustively researched book. In a career that spanned four decades, there doesn't seem to be a league, organized or not, for which Satchel Paige didn't play #8212;from the American League in Cleveland, to the no-name league team in Bismarck, N.D., to a 3-team setup in Trujillo's Dominican Republic. (The reconstruction of Paige's 1933-1935 record in North Dakota from newspaper accounts [35-2, 25 complete games, 440 K'...more
Co2
Wonderfully researched and well written work.

Tye succeeds in separating legend from fact when he can and plainly pointing out where he cannot. And that is the underlying premise of the book. In the most statistically driven sport, where numbers define a player's greatness, we don't know exactly how great Paige was.
The two defining themes in the book are the life of Satchel Paige and what Jim Crow America did to those that were segregated from white society and what white America lost in turn.

T...more
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