Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier 75 years ago.
Major League Baseball will celebrate and honor the legacy of Jackie Robinson Friday, 75 years after he broke the color barrier and became the first African American to play in the majors.
Negro Leagues Baseball Museum President Bob Kendrick appeared on “The DA Show” Friday to talk about how Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers and team president Branch Rickey’s decision to sign the infielder over the likes of Satchel Paige.
According to Baseball-Reference data, Paige played in the Negro Leagues from 1927 to 1947 before he joined the Cleveland Indians in 1948. Paige played for the Birmingham Black Barons, Cleveland Cubs, Pittsburgh Crawfords, New York Black Yankees, Memphis Red Sox and the Kansas City Monarchs.
He’s considered to be among the best baseball pitchers of all-time.
Kendrick said on the radio show Paige was “hurt” Robinson got the call to the majors in 1947. But, by that time, Paige was already approaching 40 years old.
“Satchel Paige was hurt. Satchel Paige was a teammate of Jackie’s [with the Kansas City Monarchs in 1945],” Kendrick said. “Satchel, in many respects, was the Negro Leagues. He was the Negro Leagues’ biggest star. So, in his mind, he should’ve been the guy. But there was no way that they were going to take Satchel. It was too easy for the owners to say he was too old. …
“I think Satchel was also a little too charismatic. You couldn’t bring that level of charisma. … It was too great a risk that a pitcher might fail. And the first guy can’t fail, because if the first guy fails, then there’s no second guy. They were waiting for failure. … So Branch Rickey had a double-difficult task of identifying the right guy, because failure wasn’t an option on either side of the equation.”
Paige played for the Indians for two years and then, in 1951, joined the St. Louis Browns and finished his career with the Kansas City Athletics in 1965 at the age of 58. He appeared in one game that season, pitching three innings and striking out one batter. He didn’t give up any runs in that appearance.
Paige was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.