Wed, September 11, 2013

Satchel and Stepovich

If you’ve ever found yourself thinking, ‘Hmmm, I wonder if there is a photograph somewhere of Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige and Alaska territorial governor Mike Stepovich’
Well, wonder no more:

Leroy “Satchel” Paige and Mike Stepovch, June (?) 1958 (Stepovich Family
Papers, Box 3, Folder 39, Alaska and Polar Regions, UAF Rasmuson Library)

This photo, archived with the rest of Stepovich’s papers at the UAF Rasmuson Library, was taken in summer 1958 when Stepovich and his wife Matilda took in a Miami Marlins game. The Marlins were a minor league affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies and one of many teams the itinerant Paige played for as he pitched well into his fifties.
Fans of Alaska baseball know Paige made a highly publicized visit to Anchorage in August 1965 for a series of exhibition games. By then in his late fifties, his prime pitching days well behind him, Paige still threw blistering fastballs and a mix of curves and sliders delivered with sidearm and submarine arm motions. At the time of his Alaska visit he claimed to have not walked a batter in twenty years, and he held true to form. Paige walked not a single batter he faced, and struck out more than a few. In one game against a team from Fort Richardson, Paige needed only twenty-two pitches to shut the batters down over three innings. He then switched teams—and shut out the other squad as well.