WASHINGTON, DC. The Smithsonians National Museum of African American History and Culture
will host Satchel: The Life and Times of an American LegendA Conversation with Author Larry Tye Wednesday, Sept. 9, 6:30 p.m., at the Carmichael Auditorium of the National Museum of American History, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue. Tye will discuss his book with Lonnie Bunch, director of NMAAHC and Washington Post columnist and author Wil Haygood. The book will be available for sale and signing after the conversation. The event is free and open to the public.
Most baseball fans, and non-fans, know Satchel Paige (1906-1982) as a legendary African American pitcher who spent most of his career in the Negro Leagues. Much more will be learned during the two-hour conversation with Tye about his critically acclaimed, meticulously researched book. A New York Times review called the book engaging and insightful, while the Washington Post said, Tye adores his subject. His Paige is skyscraping with a blinding fastball that defied gravity and rose on its way to the plate.
Leroy Robert Paige was born July 7, 1906, in Mobile, Ala., one of 12 children, and grew up there in the era of Jim Crow. The opening chapter of the book vividly recounts how Mobile changed from a relatively tolerant southern city during Reconstruction to one where lynching was commonplace. At a too-young age, the book quotes Paige writing, I found out what it was like to be a Negro in Mobile.
The book also reveals that as young Satchel grew so did his parents expectations for him to help provide for the family. He collected bottles for their deposit and delivered ice. But, according to one story told by Paige (he gave several versions), a particular job earned him his nickname, as referenced in the following passage:
The obvious place to look for work was the nearby L&N station, where five separate railroads provided passenger service.
Black youths like Leroy jumped when wealthy white travelers snapped their fingers
Leroy was the youngest of the pint-sized porters, but he soon realized that he could not bring home a real days pay if he made just ten cents at a time. So he got a pole and some rope and jury-rigged a contraption that let him sling together two, three, or four satchels and cart them all at once. You look like a walking satchel tree, one of (the boys) yelled. The description fit him to a tee and it stuck. Leroy Paige, he said became no more and Satchel Paige took over.
The conversation between Tye, Bunch and Haygood will explore, among other topics, how Paige began playing baseball on the streets and in reform school, how he invented his trademark hesitation pitch while throwing bricks at rival gang members and his barnstorming across the country as the superstar pitcher with several Negro League teams while also pitching to major leaguers in exhibition games. The audience will have the opportunity to ask questions following the conversation.
Tye is a former reporter for the Boston Globe where his primary beat was medicine, but he also covered other beats, including sports. He has written several books on such wide-ranging subjects as public relations, the Jewish Diaspora and Pullman porters. In addition to being an author, Tye runs a Boston-based business to help the media better cover the health-care industry.
Haygood is a prominent journalist and author of several best-selling biographies and other works of non-fiction. In addition to working for the Washington Post, he was a staff writer and foreign correspondent for the Boston Globe for 17 years.
Historian, author, curator and educator, Lonnie G. Bunch III is the founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. He has spent nearly 30 years in the museum field where he is regarded as one of the nations leading figures in the cultural-historical community.