One canít predict what will happen tomorrow by what happened yesterday. Thatís why there are so many upsets in sports. A perfect example of this is the 2002 edition of the L.A. Dodgers. Yes, Steve Holt, Editor of the Acorn, I deserve the good-natured zings you gave me this week about my earlier writings about this team. The season isnít over yet, but Iím very pleased that I was so wrong about the Dodgers this year.
Story of the Week
"SATCHEL" PAIGE & JOSH GIBSON
Jackie Robinson is my hero period. Iíve never been shy about letting everyone know it. He was the subject of my first article dated August 9, 2001; please access my website for same. But he is not what this weekís article is about. Itís about two other black players who made baseball history in the Negro League before Jackie broke the color line in 1947.
Leroy "Satchel" Paige may be the greatest pitcher in baseball history. Paige made it to the majors, but not when he was the best pitcher in baseball. When he signed with the Cleveland Indians in 1948, he was already 43 years old. In 1930, he struck out 22 big leaguers including Hack Wilson and Babe Herman in an exhibition game. As a member of the Pittsburgh Crawfords in 1933, he was 31-4, winning 21 games in a row, and once racked up 62 straight scoreless innings. That is precisely how his Negro League career went.
When Cleveland signed Paige, J. G. Taylor Spink, publisher of The Sporting News, displayed his ignorance by writing, "To bring in a pitching rookie of Paigeís age is to demean the standards of baseball." Two days later, Paige demeaned the Chicago White Sox, holding them scoreless in two innings of relief. He pitched a shutout in his second start, and finished his first big-league season 6-1. (Please refer to my article of 9-13-01 for more about "Satch" and Bill Veeck, the man who signed him.) "Satchel" Paige is in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Josh Gibson may be the greatest catcher in baseball history. Walter Johnson once said of him, "He hits the ball a mile, and throws like a rifle. Heís better than Bill Dickey." He once hit a ball out of Yankee Stadium in an exhibition game. His Baseball Hall of Fame plaque credits him with "almost 800 home runs"; no one knows for sure. He compiled a batting average of .412 in exhibition games against big league pitching.
Gibson also played winter ball extensively, and said his biggest thrill was being chosen MVP of the Puerto Rican League in 1941. Many major league players were also in that league.
The Pittsburgh Pirates reportedly signed Gibson to a contract in 1943, but Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis vetoed the signing. Three months before Jackie Robinsonís major league debut, Josh Gibson died.
Leroy "Satchel" Paige and Josh Gibson; what a battery!!
Last Weekís Trivia
Who are the only three players in NBA history to average 20 points and 20 rebounds per game for an entire season? If you didnít name Wilt Chamberlain, where have you been? Actually, Wilt pulled off the feat many times. The other two were Bob Pettit and Jerry Lucas, once each.
Trivia Question of the Week
Who is the only pitcher in major league baseball history to toss two no-hitters in consecutive games? See next weekís Sports Junkie for the answer.