Usually at this
season, a Mantle or a Mays is a day or two ahead of Babe Ruth's home run
record, but when a Mantle or a Mays fails, inevitably, to break it at the long
season's ending, he does not go to jail. But now in Miami, the celebrated old
pitching man for the Miami Marlins is going straight to jail unless he finishes
the season in a heroic fashion; Leroy (Satchel) Paige faces a 12-day sentence
in the county stockade by latest count, for a highway violation and driving
with a license perhaps older than he is.
Last April Judge
Charles Snowden found Paige guilty of mashing down too heavy on the accelerator
in a 30-mph zone. The judge told Leroy he would spend 20 days in jail when the
International League season was over but gave him the opportunity to work off
his time in this manner: one day less for each hit he makes; one day less for
each run he scores; one day less for each win he pitches; and one day less for
each time he strikes out Buffalo's Luke Easter.
At the time Paige
kept his own counsel, except to say: "That policeman should of waited just
a minute. I was just tuning up when he gave me the whine." Said Easter:
"If the judge wanted to make it just right, he should have said Satch would
get an extra day in jail for every hit I got off him. That would have kept
Leroy in meal money next winter."
needs the public trough to survive. For 40 years in the Negro leagues and on
his hemispheric barnstorming tours, he never climbed the mound without a fat
contract stashed in his hip pocket. Today, one of the best pitchers over three
innings, Satch does all right at the pay-table. And deservedly; the pitching
man's record at week's end was eight wins and five losses, his ERA was 3.23 and
the long right arm was as loose as ever. But the opposing pitchers and Easter
weren't doing anything about lightening his burden. Paige hadn't gotten a hit
in 15 at-bats, nor had he scored a run or struck out Easter. Easter has a
whammy on Paige which devils him. Groans Satch: "That Luke don't exactly
fall down when I give him the bat-dodger." But if the prospect of looking
through prison bars instead of pine trees for quail in October is nettling
Satch, he does not show it as he stalks through the league, cool and slow, with
his strange, lofty dignity.
Long before Bill
Veeck brought him to the Cleveland Indians in 1948, Paige was a mystery man,
but he never was a buffoon. The man who thinks so is abruptly rebuffed. Paige
has stock answers for those who ask his age. "I try to go along with what
they want to hear," he says. "But I'll be 50 in September."
about 55," says Veeck, "but more likely a shade more."
will go along with any 50th birthday party remains to be seen. He once was told
that the fans in Columbus, Ohio planned a big do for his birthday, which
coincided with Satch's appearance there.
birthday," said Paige.
argue with the calendar," he was told.