Leroy “Satchel” Paige was the most sensational pitcher ever to throw a baseball. During his years in the Negro Leagues he fine-tuned a pitch so scorching that catchers tried to soften the sting by cushioning their gloves with beefsteaks. His career stats — 2,000 wins, 250 shutouts, three victories on the same day — are so eye-popping they seem like misprints. But bigotry kept big league teams from signing him until he was forty-two, at which point he helped propel the Cleveland Indians to the World Series. Over a career that spanned four decades, Satchel pitched more baseballs, for more fans, in more ballparks, for more teams, than any player in history.
Now there is a book worthy of this towering talent and boundary breaker.
In "Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend," award-winning author and journalist Larry Tye untangles myth from truth about this flawed yet majestic man. Tye shows us Satchel as a self-promoter who selflessly fought to guarantee his teammates richer paydays. He was a Casanova with outsized appetites — and a devoted father who towered over baseball with his skill as well as his shrewdness.
This new book also rewrites our history of the integration of baseball, with Satchel Paige in a starring role. While many dismissed him as a Stepin Fetchit, Satchel was something else entirely: a quiet subversive. He pitched so spectacularly that he drew the spotlight first to himself, then to his all-black Kansas City Monarchs, and inevitably to the Monarchs’ rookie second baseman Jackie Robinson. In the process, Satchel, even more than Jackie, opened the door for African Americans to the national pastime and forever changed his sport and this nation.
Larry Tye – Biographical Brief
Larry Tye runs the Boston-based Health Coverage Fellowship, which is designed to help the media do a better job covering critical health care issues. Each year it trains 10 medical journalists from newspapers, radio stations and TV outlets from across the country, on topics ranging from public health and mental health to insuring the uninsured.
From 1986 to 2001, Tye was a reporter at the Boston Globe, where his primary beat was medicine. He also served as the Globe’s environmental reporter, roving national writer, investigative reporter, and sports writer. Before that he was the environmental reporter at the Courier-Journal in Louisville, and covered government and business at the Anniston Star in Alabama.
Tye’s first book, "The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and the Birth of Public Relations," was published in 1998 by Crown. Spin was the subject of reports on CNN, CSPAN’s “Book Notes,” two shows on National Public Radio, and a multi-part BBC series on Bernays and his uncle, Sigmund Freud.
His second book, "Home Lands: Portraits of the New Jewish Diaspora," was published by Henry Holt in 2001. It looks at the renewal underway across the Jewish world, from Boston to Buenos Aires, Dusseldorf to Dnepropetrovsk deep in the Ukraine. In each community children are leading parents and grandparents back to their culture and faith, and in each Jews feel confident living in diverse societies while still embracing a core of beliefs and practices that define them as Jews.
"Rising from the Rails: Pullman Porters and the Making of the Black Middle Class," was released in 2004 by Henry Holt. It explores the 100-year history of the black men who worked on George Pullman’s railroad sleeping cars, looking at how they launched the first successful black trade union, helped kick-start the Civil Rights movement, and gave birth to today’s African-American middle class.
"Shock: The Healing Power of Electroconvulsive Therapy (Avery/Penguin, 2006)," was a collaboration with Kitty Dukakis, the former first lady of Massachusetts. It is partly a journalist’s first-person account of psychiatry’s most controversial treatment, partly a portrait of how that treatment gave one woman a new sense of control and hope after two decades of debilitating depression.
Tye, who lives with his wife and two children outside of Boston, was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1993-94. He is now working on a biography of Superman for Random House.