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Monday, February 11, 2008

Card Of the Week 2/11/08

I'm crazy busy at the moment, but I wanted to share this beauty that came in the mail today.

Once things slow down a bit (maybe Thursday the way things are going) I'll do the write up. In the mean time, just enjoy the card.

Ok, I have a little bit of breathing room now and the question has already been addressed. What the heck is a Braves logo doing on a Satchel Paige card?? I'm glad you asked! This is a card I've been chasing since 2004 when it was released. Well here's the deal. Everyone knows that Satchel was a Negro League superstar. Pretty much the biggest superstar this side of Babe Ruth. Satchel finally got to play in the majors in 1948 after Jackie Robinson's integration, and then only when the Indians were desperate for pitching help in the heat of a pennant race. Bill Veeck signed Paige to pitch for the Indians and he helped them to capture the Pennant and the World Series against the Braves. I don't begrudge the Indians for beating the Braves in that World Series specifically because Satchel got a ring. Besides, we got our revenge eventually.

Satchel barnstormed in 1950 and returned to the majors in 1951 with the St Louis Browns after Bill Veeck bought the team. Satchel had his best year in the Majors in '52 and made the All Star team that year. Satchel didn't get in the game when it was rained out after five innings and Casey Stengel put him on the All Star squad in 1953 where he pitched an inning. Veeck sold the team in 1953 and Satchel was released before the team moved to Baltimore. So close, Kevin, so close.

That wasn't the end of Satchel's major league career though. In 1965 at the age of 58, Satchel started one last game for Charlie O. Finley's Kansas City A's on Negro League tribute day. Satchel pitched three scoreless innings, Diego Segui blew the save and the immortal Don Mossi finally lost the game in the 8th when John Wyatt uncorked a wild pitch that let an inherited runner score. Here's some trivia to impress your friends: Who got the last hit off of Satchel Paige in his major league career? Answer: Carl Yastrzemski with a double off of Satch in the first inning.

I still haven't explained what that Braves logo is doing on the card though. In 1968 Braves owner Bill Bartholomay, the man who brought the Braves to Atlanta, signed Satchel to a contract. Satchel was ostensibly a pitching coach, but it was really more of a publicity stunt to drum up interest in the team. There was another very important reason for Paige to be on the team though - it got Satchel the 158 days of Major League service time that he needed to be eligible for his pension. Imagine denying the greatest pitcher who ever lived - a man who pitched professionally for 40 years - his well deserved pension because he didn't have enough service time! If it weren't for those goddamn lousy Mets, Satch might have had another World Series ring in '69 too.

Satch got his time in and the last major league uniform he ever wore was a Braves uniform. Of course the only proper thing to be done was for Donruss to buy one of them up and chop it into little bits for their 2004 Leaf Certified Materials set. This is another example of my shocking hypocrisy when it comes to trading cards. The purist in me thinks it's an absolute disgrace that such a Holy Baseball Relic should be desecrated so in the pursuit of filthy lucre. That uniform should have been hanging in the Braves Museum at Turner Field dammit! Then again, the collector in me WANTS ONE OF THOSE JERSEY CARDS VERY BADLY. Very very badly. It's on a very short list of my most wanted cards ever, along with a '54 Aaron, a 1940 Play Ball Casey Stengel and any original King Kelly card, among others. I've never been able to track one down or win an eBay bid so far, but I'll keep trying. In the meantime, I finally snagged a base card from the set. At least I think it's a base card. It's serial numbered so it might be a parallel. Lord knows Donruss doesn't have enough parallels. In any case it's a Satchel Paige Braves card. And since there have been no Braves so far this year for my Card of the Week, it's about time don't you think?


Bay Rat North West said...

I am curious as to why there is a Braves logo on the card. Will you be covering this in the write up?

Extra Innings said...

Yea, my thoughts exactly.

dayf said...

Done, finally. The damn pager went off right when I was about to post it too. Back to work...

Bay Rat North West said...

I did not know that. Thanks for the lesson.