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The Time of a Lifetime
Monte Irvin
July 19, 1993
The Negro leagues' all-star bash was grand for this Hall of Famer
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July 19, 1993

The Time Of A Lifetime

The Negro leagues' all-star bash was grand for this Hall of Famer

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Satch was the center of attention, and he knew it. As we stood around the batting cage, he'd say, "Fellas, the East-West Game belongs to me. I don't have to pitch but two or three innings, so I'm gonna be very stingy today. In fact, I'm givin' up nothin'! When I get around to the Grand Hotel tonight, I'll buy you a beer. But today, nothin'! Zero!" He was right.

The West used to save Satchel to finish things up. In 1941 he came in to pitch the top of the eighth. It must have been about a hundred and five degrees. You could see little heat waves emanating from home plate. So our first baseman Lennie Pearson goes up and takes his three strikes, and comes back to the dugout, sweat streaming down his face. He sits down next to me, doesn't say a word. I say, "Len, what kind of stuff does he have?" He says, half whining, "I don't know. I didn't see it." He was telling the truth. Satch was throwing so hard you could hardly see the ball. He pitched two innings, and the only hit was a swinging bunt by Campy down the third base line. Fortunately, I didn't have to face him that day.

We didn't play in major league parks very often, so when we did, we'd shine our shoes a little better, make sure our uniforms were a little cleaner, make sure our caps were on a little straighter, try to look a little sharper, just to prove to the people in the stands, and especially to the major league scouts, that the big leagues were missing the boat by not signing us. And there were always plenty of scouts there. They knew. We'd say to them, "When are you guys going to wise up and sign some of this good talent?" And they'd say, "Just keep hustling. One of these days it'll happen."

Well, it took too damn long.

After 10 seasons in the Negro leagues, Monte Irvin, now 74, spent seven years in the majors, mostly with the New York Giants. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1973.

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