July 2007

July 7, 1948

CivilrightsOn July 7, 1948 innovative owner Bill Veeck signed 42-year old Satchel Paige to pitch for the Cleveland Indians. Veeck was ridiculed for what was perceived to have signed Paige simply for publicity.

Paige, born exactly 42 years earlier in Mobile, Alabama, brought wisdom and leadership for the club’s new outfielder and guidance for the first African-American in the American League – Larry Doby. But Satchel wasn’t there just for moral support. Aiding a rotation featuring 20-game winners Bob Lemon and Gene Bearden and 19-game winner (and future Hall of Famer) Bob Feller, Paige went 6-1 in his 1948 campaign with a 2.48 ERA in 21 games for the AL pennant-winning Indians. Paige pitched 2/3 of an inning for the Indians in Game 5 of the 1948 World Series against the Boston Braves – a game the Indians lost 11-5, though they won the Series four games to two.

Paige debuted some fifteen months after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Within three months of Robinson’s debut, Larry Doby debuted with the Indians and the integration of baseball had begun – though the Boston Red Sox became the last team to integrate in 1959 after signing Pumpsie Green.

To learn more about the African-American experience in society and baseball, along with segregation and Jim Crow, click here to go to the online thematic unit for "Before You Could Say ‘Jackie Robinson," and schedule an on-site visit or a videoconference with the Baseball Hall of Fame’s award-winning education program!