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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
A new Paige for oldest rookie in MLB history
By Larry Schwartz
Special to

July 7, 1948

It's better late than never when Satchel Paige, a Negro Leagues ace for years, signs with the Cleveland Indians. The lean right-hander will be the first African-American to pitch in the majors, the fourth black to play (Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby and Roy Campanella already are playing).

Paige says he's 39, but records will later show that today is his 42nd birthday.

"I'm starting my major league career with one thing in my favor, anyway. I won't be afraid of anybody I see in that batter's box. I've been around too long for that," says Paige, who has pitched since the 1920s in the Negro Leagues and frequently faced major leaguers in barnstorming tours.

At yesterday's "secret tryout" for owner Bill Veeck and player-manager Lou Boudreau, Paige was impressive. Paige threw some 50 pitches "and only three or four were wide of the plate," Veeck says. Boudreau, who had never seen Paige perform before, managed a few line drives and said, "Now I can believe some of the tall stories they tell about his pitching."

As baseball's oldest rookie, Paige will go 6-1 with a 2.48 ERA and help the Indians win the pennant (and then the World Series).

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