71 years ago today Satchel Paige, arguably the best pitcher ever to throw a baseball, became the first African-American pitcher in the newly-desegregated Major Leagues. He came in as a 42-year-old rookie (the oldest ever) helping lead the Cleveland Indians to a World Championship.
Playing in the Negro Leagues for much of his career, he won an astonishing 2000 games, pitched about 50 no-hitters and 250 shutouts. He was so good, that he was brought to the mound again at age 58 with a one-day contract and threw three shut-out innings against the Boston Red Sox. READ about an outrageous stunt he pulled against a semi-pro team, and WATCH a video to see him in action… (1948)
Once, against the “Down the Bay Boys”, he got into a jam in the ninth inning of a 1–0 ballgame when his teammates made three consecutive errors, loading the bases for the other team with two outs. Angry, Paige said he stomped around the mound, kicking up dirt. The fans started booing him, so he decided that “somebody was going to have to be showed up for that.” He called in his outfielders and had them sit down in the infield while, with surefire confidence, he pitched to the final batter. With the fans and his own teammates howling, Paige struck him out to win the game.
MORE Good News on this Day:
- The Act Against Slavery was passed in Upper Canada and importation of slaves into Lower Canada prohibited (1793)
- Argentina declared its independence from Spain, signing a Declaration of Independence (1816)
- The first ever Wimbledon tennis championship began as the first official lawn tennis tournament, which included men’s singles only (1877)
- Elvis Costello quit his day job at Elizabeth Arden Cosmetics to become a full time musician (1977)
- The New Zealand Parliament passed the Homosexual Law Reform Act legalizing homosexuality in New Zealand (1986)
- Pete Sampras won his seventh Wimbledon singles title, tying the men’s record at the All England Club (2000)
- “The Office” created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, starring Ricky Gervais and Martin Freeman premiered on BBC Two in the UK (2001)
- The African Union was established in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with its first chairman, South African President, Thabo Mbeki (2002)
- South Sudan declared itself a nation, officially becoming independent of Sudan after two civil wars and millions of casualties (2011)
Notable Birthdays: Actor Tom Hanks (63); Musician Jack White (44); Actor Fred Savage (43)
And, on this day in 1960, 7-year-old Roger Woodward, who was wearing a life jacket, survived a 162-foot plunge over Niagara Falls after a boating accident.
Woodward, who later developed a love of boating, became a certified diver, even joined the Navy, became the first person to go over the Falls by accident and live. He had one peaceful moment during the chaotic, scary incident.
While he was going over the brink of the Falls, he said he felt like he was “floating in a cloud. I had no sensation of up or down.” Newspapers called it a “miracle” that he survived the rocky bottom of Horseshoe Falls. It may have been a “water cone” that broke his fall, a phenomenon of water and air bouncing back up from the rocks. The retired white collar worker, who still lives in Alabama suffered only a slight concussion, scrapes and bruises. His first word when rescued in Ontario by the tour boat at the bottom was reportedly, “Gosh”.