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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) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, satchel paige

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   1. Cblau Posted: August 09, 2021 at 09:22 PM (#6033605)
The Hall of Fame is not run by Major League Baseball (which didn't exist prior to 1999).
   2. DanG Posted: August 09, 2021 at 10:23 PM (#6033611)
An excerpt from an unpublished article regarding the HOF and Black players:

In the mid-50’s the Hall made two rule changes that served to forestall the racial integration of HOF membership. Whether that was truly the intent of the rule changes is a matter of conjecture, pending the discovery of concrete evidence.

First we’ll look at Negro leagues legend Satchel Paige. After two successful seasons with Cleveland (1948-49), Paige was released by the club’s new regime, and he spent the 1950 season barnstorming. He promptly received a vote in the 1951 BBWAA election. Paige returned to MLB that season, and when he was released after the 1953 season, the HOF instituted the 5-year wait. Rather than being eligible for the 1955 election, Paige was being delayed until 1959. However, two years later the Hall put up another road block to integration of the Hall.

In 1955 Jackie Robinson was a shadow of the player he had been in his prime. He finally had won his first ring and there were rumors of his retirement after a nine-year career. At the same time, a wave of Black players had emerged as stars in 1955, including Ernie Banks, Hank Aaron, Vic Power, Al Smith and Sam Jones. At that moment, the HOF created the ten-year rule; previous to that, years played was irrelevant to HOF eligibility.

Ultimately, Jackie did return for a 10th season and was elected to the Hall in 1962, just over the line with 77.5%. But the ten-year rule kept off the ballot most of the other long-time Negro leaguers who starred in MLB: Paige, Monte Irvin, Luke Easter, Sam Jethroe, George Crowe, Joe Black, et al. The Veterans Committee followed suit and likewise refused to consider players with less than ten years in MLB.
   3. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 09, 2021 at 10:41 PM (#6033615)

The Hall of Fame is not run by Major League Baseball (which didn't exist prior to 1999).

can you explain what is meant by this sentence?
   4. Srul Itza Posted: August 09, 2021 at 11:23 PM (#6033618)

There was no entity called "Major League Baseball". There was the American League and the National League. Around 2000, they merged into a single organization, which we today call "Major League Baseball".

And the Hall of Fame has always been separate from the leagues and MLB (but that part you knew).
   5. DanG Posted: August 09, 2021 at 11:39 PM (#6033620)
Wikipedia dates the founding of MLB as 1903.

Beginning in 1903, the two leagues cooperated but remained legally separate entities until 2000 when they merged into a single organization led by the Commissioner of Baseball.
   6. Hank Gillette Posted: August 09, 2021 at 11:58 PM (#6033622)
Bowie Kuhn: “I meant to do that.”
   7. Rough Carrigan Posted: August 10, 2021 at 07:31 PM (#6033729)
To his great credit, at his HOF induction in 1966, Ted Williams called for the worthy negro leagues players to be inducted.
   8. AndrewJ Posted: August 10, 2021 at 07:53 PM (#6033735)
And 50 years ago today in Cooperstown, the day following Satchel's induction, 16 historians, statisticians and card collectors met at the National Baseball Library and founded the Society for American Baseball Research. I joined SABR in 1984 and have never regretted it. Cheers!
   9. Rough Carrigan Posted: August 11, 2021 at 07:40 AM (#6033789)
#7, just like he meant to be there when Hank Aaron hit his 715th homer?
Bowie Kuhn, the commissioner of baseball somehow managed to not be present that day. Probably busy bilking clients at his law firm.
   10. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: August 11, 2021 at 01:55 PM (#6033849)
Addie Joss was elected to the HOF, and he spent what would've been his tenth major league season at Woodlawn Cemetery in Toledo, Ohio.

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