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Satchel Paige Newsbeat

Monday, August 09, 2021

50 years ago, Major League Baseball stumbled before inducting Satchel Paige into the Hall of Fame

The jubilation belied a needlessly painful drama that permeated the months leading up to the historic event. An early ’71 MLB press release touted Paige as an “ageless patriarch of the pitching mound” who dominated the Negro Leagues as Babe Ruth did the majors. Nevertheless, the Hall planned to place his plaque in a different wing from those for Ruth and other white immortals. The decision to alter course and give Paige equal honors didn’t come until a month before the festivities….

Paige’s Kansas City Monarchs teammate Buck O’Neil, who died in 2006, remembered in our interview seven years earlier that Paige was publicly grateful and conciliatory, but privately and proudly resistant. “No, he wasn’t going for that, he’d rather not be in the Hall of Fame,” recounted O’Neil, adding that Paige said, “ ‘I want to be in the Hall of Fame, but I won’t go in the back door.’ ”

Criticism of the commissioner, MLB and the Hall of Fame was swift and unsparing, including from Robinson, who suggested that Paige boycott the ceremony.

John Thorn, MLB’s “official historian” since 2011, told The Undefeated, “I think the outrage and umbrage was in the majority, a distinct majority, and Kuhn had no choice but to back down.” In Kuhn’s 1987 memoir, Hardball, he indicated he had a plan and that the outcry and charges of Jim Crow separatism were a predictable development that he figured would persuade the Hall’s directors to give full-fledged membership to Paige and the Negro Leagues’ subsequent electees.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 09, 2021 at 05:27 PM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: hall of fame, satchel paige

 

 

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