We’re marking what would probably have been the 114th birthday of Leroy Robert Paige, aka Satchel Paige, perhaps the most legendary pitcher the game of baseball has ever seen.
The master of the “Trouble Ball,” the “Bee Ball” and countless others, Paige was a star in the Negro Leagues, the Major Leagues and in numerous independent teams that would play exhibition games across the country in the off-season.
It’s sometimes difficult to know where the statistics leave off and the legends begin.
It’s said that Paige was so good in his heyday, that he once struck out 21 or 22 major leaguers in a single exhibition game.
It’s said he once struck out the great slugger Josh Gibson on three straight pitches, calling out what he was going to do before he did it.
It’s said he sometimes loaded the bases with intentional walks and then told his defense to sit down, while he proceeded to strike out the next three batters.
Paige made it to the majors in 1948, in his early 40s, becoming the first Black pitcher in the World Series (which he helped his team win).
He would later come back for a single game in 1965, as the oldest player ever: 59 years, two months, 18 days.
The Kansas City A’s were holding a “Satchel Paige Appreciation Night,” and decided not only to honor the star, they signed him to a contract and had him start the game.
Paige not only pitched, he pitched well, throwing three scoreless innings against a Boston Red Sox lineup that included future Hall of Famer Carl Yastremski and earning a standing ovation from the crowd.
But what else could have possibly happened with Satchel Paige on the mound?
Satchel Paige used to say “don’t look back, something might be gaining on you.”
Maybe he was talking about a ninja.
Which I mention because a man in Japan has just earned the world’s first master’s degree in ninja studies.
After finishing the two year university program, Genichi Mitsuhashi did the only obvious thing: started planning to get a PhD in ninja studies.
What’s the final project like for a ninja degree?
Image: Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture