#Spotlight – What better way to preview the Negro Leagues upcoming Centennial Anniversary than a trip down baseball's memory lane through the unique travel's of a true baseball original - Satchel Paige. In Part 1 we chronicled the beginning of Satchel's career.
Part 2 focuses on the start of the legend.
Pittsburgh Crawfords, Philadelphia Giants of the California Winter League, North Dakota (Bismarck Churchills), The House of David, Kansas City Monarchs and Satchel Paige All-Stars - 1931-1936
In 1931, Paige would join the Pittsburgh Crawfords for $250 per month. In September of that same year he would join a Negro League All-Start team called the Philadelphia Giants who would play in the California Winter League against elite Black AND White players.
In 1932, Pittsburgh would sign Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston and Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe from the Homestead Grays and form one of the greatest times in Baseball, not just Negro Leagues history. Because of financial issues with the teams created by the ongoing Depression, many players were sold to the Crawfords and they would add Cool Papa Bell, Boojum Wilson, Judy Johnson, Rap Dixon among others.
After a dispute between team owner Gus Greenlee and Paige, Satchel would leave to join a semi-pro team in North Dakota - The Bismarck Churchills, for $400 and a late model car for just one month of work.
Paige would then return to Pittsburgh in September to help the Crawfords win the second-half championship.
In 1934, The Denver Post who would host an annual baseball tournament known as the "Little World Series" opened the game to black players for the first time. Gus Greenlee would lease Paige to The House of David, a barnstorming team famous for their long beards and managed by Grover Cleveland Alexander.
In the spring of 1935, Gus Greenlee refused Paige's request to raise his $250 per month salary, so Paige returned to Bismarck. This would lead to a ban for the 1935 season from the Negro National League, so owner J.L. Wilkinson of the independent Kansas City Monarchs would sign Paige.
That winter Paige would front a team called the "Satchel Paige All-Stars", in a game on February 7, 1936 in Oakland where he would play against a bunch of white Major League players from the Bay Area including Joe DiMaggio.
In 1936, Paige would return to Pittsburgh making $600 per month before playing in the Denver Post tournament again winning with a team of Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, Buck Leonard and other and winning a $5,000 prize.