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Legendary pitcher Satchel Paige became the oldest player to join Major League baseball, with a career that spanned 40 years.
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But Satchel Paige insisted that he kept his own records and reported pitching in more than 2,500 games and winning 2,000 or so, played for 250 teams and thrown 250 shutouts – staggering statistics, and Paige was prone to some flamboyance, but experts believe much of it can be borne out.
In July 1948, on his 42nd birthday, after 22 years in the Negro leagues, Paige became the oldest man ever to debut in the major leagues,
on a three-month contract with the Cleveland Indians. He even pitched part of an inning when they went to the World Series that year. Paige was the first Negro pitcher in the American League and the seventh Negro big leaguer overall.
Paige pitched for two other major league teams, the St. Louis Browns and the Kansas City Athletics, with whom he ended his career on September 25, 1965, at the age of 59. Although all during that time, he continued exhibition games and even did a baseball "skit" with the legendary basketball team, the Harlem Globetrotters.
Paige was married twice, first only briefly to a woman who served him divorce papers as he was walking out to the mound on Wrigley Field, and then to Lahoma Brown, with whom he had seven children.
Paige died of a heart attack in Kansas City, Missouri, on June 8, 1982—less than a month before his 75th birthday.
Paige was famous for his hard fast balls, and he also developed his signature "hesitation" pitch, but he could do anything with the ball that he wanted.
He wrote a couple of autobiographies, including Maybe I'll Pitch Forever: A Great Baseball Player Tells the Hilarious Story Behind the Legend, where he secretly lamented not being the first black player in the major League instead of Jackie Robinson, but he bore it with equanimity.
He held a number of firsts, most notably the first black pitcher to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971, which he was fortunate to be able to see. He was also the oldest rookie and working player in the game. But Paige rarely addressed the issue of his age, often quoting Mark Twain: "Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."
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