Student-athletes from several schools around the Montgomery Public School System got the chance to learn of an Alabama icon who defied all the odds of his generation.
Author Larry Tye, a former reporter for the Anniston Star and the Boston Globe, met with baseball players from MPS schools at Robert E. Lee High School to share the story of Satchel Paige, a Mobile-native born in 1906, who became a baseball star while learning to overcome adversity during the South's 'Jim Crow' era of segregation.
The book is actually the biography of two American icons, Satchel Paige, arguably the greatest pitcher ever to throw a baseball, and Jim Crow, the amalgam of Southern laws that mandated that the races be separated everywhere from public bathrooms to schools and buses.
Tye says because of the Jim Crow laws, Paige did not get a chance to show the world just how good he was as a pitcher until he was 42-years-old and entering the major leagues.
[ON THE WEB: The official Satchel Paige website]
Paige, even though from Mobile, actually learned how to pitch a baseball much closer to Montgomery in Mount Meigs, "at a place that was then known as The Alabama Reform School for Negro Lawbreakers." Tye says Paige was there for five years honing is pitching skills.
Tye says Paige used sports as a metaphor for the wider issues affecting life, mainly the segregation that created two worlds for blacks and whites. "He [Satchel] used sports as a way to show the world not just that he was a greater pitcher than anybody, but that blacks could do better than anybody if they worked hard enough, and tried hard enough," Tye said.
The author says Paige, and later on Jackie Robinson, "helped prove to the world, that if you integrated baseball, the whole world was a better place."
Tye's book was a New York Times bestseller, a Times Notable Book, and it won the Casey Award and the Seymour Medal as the best baseball book of 2009.
Tye's book, "Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend" is already in book stores.
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