DON'T LOOK BACK by Mark Ribowsky

DON'T LOOK BACK

Satchel Paige in the Shadows of Baseball

KIRKUS REVIEW

 An unsentimentally revealing biography of the legendary black pitcher, and a history of the catch-as-catch-can Negro leagues where he first flourished. Drawing on a variety of sources, Ribowsky (He's A Rebel, Slick) does a fine job of separating fact from fancy in his tellingly detailed account of the life and times of Leroy Robert (Satchel) Paige (whose nickname derived from a youthful bent for snatching valises from unwary travelers). Born in Mobile, Alabama (circa 1906), Paige polished his diamond talents while incarcerated as an adolescent offender. Released from prison toward the end of 1923, he began an extended career that took him the length and breadth of the US as well as to Latin America's capital cities. In addition to playing the so-called blackball circuit (with Cool Papa Bell, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, et al.), the gangly hurler more than held his own on barnstorming tours in head-to-head competition against such white stars as Dizzy Dean, Joe DiMaggio, and Bob Feller. Eventually signed by Bill Veeck's Cleveland Indians, Paige had five respectable seasons in the majors, pitched in a World Series game, and later became the first black inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame. While the public bought Paige's act as a lovable, colorful eccentric with a golden arm, Ribowsky makes clear that his persona masked a decidedly darker side that invariably wore out his welcome wherever he stayed. A compulsive womanizer and hard- drinking night owl (to the end of his days), Paige was a past master at looking out for number one, jumping contracts, and holding out for more money as a proven drawing card. Ribowski's first-rate take on the national pastime brings to vivid life what Paige and his contemporaries accomplished on their Jim Crow field of dreams. (16 pages of b&w photographs--not seen)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-671-77674-6
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1994




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