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: