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A PITCH FROM SATCHEL PAIGE African American Cultural Center/Paul Robeson Theatre
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Apr 10, 2024, 21:42
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Through April 28
A PITCH FROM SATCHEL PAIGE African American Cultural Center/Paul Robeson Theatre

By Augustine Warner

Slavery and racism are so thoroughly part of American history, itís often hard to piece out segments.
Thatís why Loren and Jim Kellerís ďA Pitch from Satchel PaigeĒ is so valuable in reminding us how many societal segments were segregated, like baseball.
Sports were completely segregated, hard to realize when we look at so many games today, which arenít.
For a major piece of society, the baseball fan focus was on Babe Ruth or Duke Snider or Mickey Mantle.
A smaller piece was more concerned about Cool Papa Bell or Josh Gibson orÖSatchel Paige.
Paige was a pitching star in the old Negro Leagues (notice the name), starting in 1927, until he was grabbed by the Cleveland Indians in a tight stretch run and into a sweep in the 1948 World Series.
His stay in the major leagues lasted until even Paige was too old and then he went back into the minors and made one last appearance in 1965.
Itís not exactly clear how old he was since the pitcher kept the same birthday and listed different years.
Society may have been segregated and the major leagues were all-White.
However, in the off-season baseball players ďbarnstormed,Ē with White and Black teammates and took the measure of each other on the field.
White players knew how good the Black players were and how much they would change baseball once someone broke the color line.
That player was Jackie Robinson, a former Paige teammate.
The Keller play in the Paul Robeson Theatre is a one-man performance, with Roosevelt Tidwell III in the role the night I saw it, working different weekends, alternating with Russell C. Holt.
Director Verniece Turner has a really minimalist approach for a set and props.
Thereís Paige in a nice suit, with a nice fedora, with a Cleveland Indians shirt on a coat rack and a KC ball hat, perhaps a reference to his start in the Kansas City team in the old Negro Leagues.
Tidwell stalks the stage, wonderfully talking about a life and a baseball career and a society which didnít want to offer him a fair chance to compete with baseball skills matched by almost no one.
Thatís why ďA Pitch From Satchel PaigeĒ is important, a look at what a bigoted society did to deny a skilled athlete a shot at being on his sportís highest level, just because of his race.

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