Don't look back, but the years have overtaken Paige, and aging has replaced ageless as the operative adjective in describing him. As others played their games of catch in the parking lot, Paige sat in a hospitality room, tubes running into his nostrils from an oxygen tank he needs to fight emphysema. A small coterie of former players gathered 'round, some to exchange niceties, some to gawk, most to rehash the legend. "Satch, how did you hold the ball when you threw your hesitation pitch?" someone asked. In reply, Paige reached for a ball as if he were going to shake hands with it, then wrapped two lengthy fingers and a thumb across the seams. His audience watched in awe: He could have been George Washington demonstrating the proper grip on a silver dollar.
To clear his schedule for the reunion, Paige had requested a rain check on "a little dinner" at the White House. "My wife, Lahoma, told me, 'That shouldn't be a hard decision. Have you looked in the glass lately?' " Paige recounted. "I'm very happy to be here. I have a boss who says, 'Satchel, as old as you are, you ought to be glad to be anywhere.' "
As old as Paige is, Bell is older yet. Cool ran his way into Cooperstown on the fastest legs in blackball. "We had an ol' bus and it seems like in my prime I could jump over that ol' bus," Bell said. "Now somebody has to lift me into the bus."
Dave Barnhill, who pitched for the New York Cubans, surveyed the scene. "This is beautiful," he said. "I see all these old guys here. You think I'm going to die? You're crazy!"