August 13, 1948 – Crowd Packs Comiskey to see Satchel Paige Pitch a Complete Game Shutout at Age 42
Satchel Paige is sometimes referred to as, “the greatest player ever excluded from Major League Baseball.” Paige dominated the Negro Leagues beginning in the late 1920s, through the 30s, and into the 1940s. Paige even played for a time for the Cleveland Cubs in 1931. It was the first time that he had played in a City with a white major league team. He later said , “I’d look over at the Cleveland Indians’ stadium [League Park]. All season long it burned me, playing there in the shadow of that stadium. It didn’t hurt my pitching, but it sure didn’t do me any good.”
In 1948, Bill Veeck gave Paige a tryout for the Indians. While Veeck is considered a P.T. Barnum like figure for his odd moves and promotions, his contributions to the integration of baseball are often forgotten. The innovative owner had signed Larry Doby as the first black player in the American League in 1947, and saw that Satchel still had something in the tank.
While there was some outcry that signing Paige was merely another publicity stunt, Bob Feller leaned into the controversy. “Maybe Mr. Veeck did want some publicity, but he wanted a pitcher, too,” he wrote. “There was only one guy around who could fill both orders. That was Ol’ Satch.”
Paige earned his first MLB win–as a 42 year old rookie–on July 15th against the As. He won his first MLB start against the Browns on August 3rd. He had often drawn large crowds for Negro League games or barnstorming tours, but few expected the turnout in Chicago when the Indians went to visit the White Sox.
When Paige was announced as the starter for the Friday night contest, all of the reserved seats were snapped up. It had been over a decade since Comiskey had sold out so early in advance of a White Sox game. Eventually, 51,013 would pack the South Side ballpark, including Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis.
The Tribe scored first in the top of the fifth when Larry Doby tripled to lead off the inning and the tagged up on a long fly-out by Jim Hegan. They extended the lead to 2-0 in the eighth when Dale Mitchell drove home Ken Keltner.
In the top of the ninth, the Indians scored three runs on two hits including an RBI single by Larry Doby. Doby then scored a run with Paige at the plate. He and Jim Hegan executed a double steal, and the Sox catcher committed an error allowing Doby to score making it a 5-0 ballgame.
Stach pitched brilliantly, never facing more than four White Sox in an inning until the 9th. He was tested a bit in the final frame, when Luke Appling and Pat Seerey hit consecutive one-out singles. Satch recovered and retired the next two Sox to finish off the complete game shutout.