Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Color Video Of Satchel Paige Pitching For The Kansas City Royals In 1948

This rather amazing video has just surfaced on YouTube. The game is being played in Los Angeles at Wrigley Field. The description of the video says the date was November 7, 1948, which matches up exactly with a doubleheader reported on in the November 17, 1948 The Sporting News. Satchel had for years taken part in post-season tours pitching against Dizzy Dean and then Bob Feller, but in 1948 his foils were Indians teammates Gene Bearden and Bob Lemon (who managed the MLB KC Royals between 1970-72). Bearden is not a well known player these days, but was a sensation in '48 after going 20-7 with an AL best 2.43 ERA and helping the Indians to the World Series crown. The lefty #30 seen starting around the 23 second mark is Bearden. According to commenters on YouTube, some of the people in the crowd shots are MGM bigwigs, which matches up with another article in the same issue of The Sporting News about Bearden having been cast in the Jimmy Stewart movie The Stratton Story. The article even mentions that Bearden sat in the MGM box for the second half of the twin bill that day. Satchel and Bearden both appeared as themselves in another movie, The Kid From Cleveland, around the same time.

Of more interest to KC fans may be Satchel Paige pitching for the Kansas City Royals. The Royals were organized by Negro Leagues and KC Monarchs great Chet Brewer and were regulars in California winter ball for many years. The team did not have a direct connection to KC, but did feature many Monarchs players. I imagine Brewer chose the name in an attempt to borrow some of the cachet the Monarchs name had. In addition to Brewer and Paige, the November 7, 1948 doubleheader featured one-time Monarchs Jesse Williams, Chico Renfroe, Cool Papa Bell, Jim LaMarque, and Herb Souell.

The Royals had no trouble with Bearden in the opening game, and Satchel exited with a 7-2 lead after seven innings, but Jim LaMarque got roughed up as Bearden's "All-Stars" stormed back to win 8-7. The Royals took the sunset-shortened second game 5-2. Here is the full account from The Sporting News:


  1. I watched The Stratton Story a while back on TCM. Stratton's beloved dog runs all the way back to the farmhouse after Monte's tragic farming accident -- canine heroism at its best.

    Good find, Aaron. If I were a kid, I'd spend some time trying to emulate Satch's pitching motion, best I could. I still may...

    1. Nice. I'd love to catch The Kid From Cleveland sometime.

      I'm intrigued by how side-armed Satch is throwing in the video. You can find a couple of other Satch deliveries on YouTube that are more over the top.

  2. Paige and the other pitcher made $4500 for 5 exhibition games in 1948? That' $43,016.83 in 2012 dollars. Not shabby at all.

  3. Dear Aaron,

    Thank you so much for your wonderful write-up of the Satchel Paige home movie footage! The original home movie film is in the collection of the Academy Film Archive. I'm a curator at the Archive and have done quite a bit of research on this film. You've added some very interesting information to what I knew and I'm really grateful. I'll incorporate it to our database description of the film. In case you're wondering, the Academy has preserved the Paige home movie so it can be watched by future generations. (The person who noted the MGM "bigwigs" on YouTube is right -- studio head Louis B. Mayer is the older gentleman who's featured, sitting with MGM music producer Arthur Freed and producer/executive William Goetz. We haven't yet been able to identify the man who's signing the autograph for the little boy -- would love to know who he is!

    If you're interested in other footage of the Negro Leagues, the Archive also holds an 8-minute clip featuring Goose Tatum and the Indianapolis Clowns playing the Kansas City Monarchs at Crosley Field in 1946. Someone has posted it on YouTube at The Academy has preserved this film too. I'm always interested in footage of the Negro Leagues and am glad to find your blog! Thanks again for this great article.

    Best wishes,
    Lynne Kirste

    1. Lynne,

      Thanks for the comment, and thanks for posting the great video! Glad I was able to add a little more information.

      I've been mesmerized by that Goose Tatum video playing on a loop at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum here in Kansas City, but am glad to see that it is also on YouTube.

    2. Hi Aaron,

      Yes, I love that Tatum footage! I have NOT been able to pin down the exact date of that game -- it's somewhere between Sept. 6 - Sept. 26, 1946. I especially love that Hilton Smith is in the footage.

      I realize that the man signing the autograph I mentioned in my first message is not in the Paige footage. We edited the home movie slightly by taking out a few shots of the stands, and that was one of the shots we took out. Just in case you were wondering.

      Best wishes,

  4. Lynne,

    I was a little confused since I didn't see anyone signing an autograph!

    I might be able to help with the date of the Cincinnati game. I believe it would have been September 8th. I've tried to piece together the Monarchs schedule for quite a few seasons, 1946 included. Here's what I have for the time frame you mentioned:

    9-6 at Cincinnati vs. Homestead Grays
    9-7 off
    9-8 at Cincinnati vs. Clowns
    9-10 at New York
    9-12 at Philadelphia
    9-15 at New York
    9-17 at New York
    9-19 at Newark
    9-22, 23, 24 at Kansas City
    9-25 at Chicago

    I have a report from the September 14th Chicago Defender on a doubleheader between the Monarchs and Clowns at Cincinnati. Unfortunately it doesn't give an exact date the games were played, but I assume it was on the 8th per an upcoming schedule from the September 6th Kansas City Call. I'd be happy to send you the game summaries if you're interested. The Monarchs hit nine homers between the two games.

  5. Hi Aaron,

    Oh, that's fantastic information on the date!! I would love to get the game summaries you have. Would it be easiest to mail them? My address is:
    Lynne Kirste
    Academy Film Archive
    1313 Vine St.
    Los Angeles, CA 90028

    Thank you in advance. I'm really excited about this new information on the Clowns/Monarchs game!

    Best wishes,