1906 – 1982
The term G.O.A.T. has severals meanings in and out of sports. But sports fans generally recognize "goat" as an acronym. G-O-A-T is the highest honor bestowed on an athlete. G-O-A-T stands for greatest of all time, and Leroy "Satchel" Paige was exactly that – he was the greatest baseball pitcher to ever take the mound.
Due to segregationist policies, Paige was unable to compete in Major League Baseball. Thus, Paige was required to pitch the vast majority of his prime in the Negro Baseball League. Playing in this league kept his skills sharp.
The Negro League may not have had the notoriety or financial resources of the MLB, but it certainly had as much if not more talent. Speed and athleticism combined with a blue collar work ethic epitomized the Negro League. Players like Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Cool Papa Bell, and others, could have easily suited up for any MLB team and been highly effective.
Satchel Paige would have commanded a big paycheck if he was asked to break the color barrier. His popularity among negro league contemporaries, was sky-high, and this reality likely delayed Paige's access to the MLB. Despite his dominance, owners refused to make Paige the first Black player to break the color barrier because of his big personality and ability to command a big paycheck. It wasn't till one year after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier (decades past Paige's prime) that Paige finally got his chance in the majors.
At the age of 42, Satchel Paige the aged "rookie" led the Cleveland Indians to a World Series.
Paige remains the oldest player to ever play in a Major League Baseball game. In 1965 at age 59, Paige played for the Kansas City Athletics. In that game, Paige pitched three innings, only giving up one hit, walked no batters, gave up no runs, and struckout one batter. In his career, Satchel Paige pitched in over 2,500 games and won over 2,000. He had 50 no-hitters, with 250 shutouts.
In Bill James' Historical Baseball Abstract, Paige is compared to better known greats with reference:
"So what you have, in Satchel Paige, is a great fastball, great control, a tremendous change, a great understanding of how to pitch, intelligence, determination, absolute composure—and a forty-year career… I think that Satchel deserves to rank, with Cy Young, Lefty Grove, and Walter Johnson, as the guys that you talk about when you’re trying to figure out who was the greatest that ever lived."
How many professional athletes compete for forty years? By all accounts, it was impossible to score on Paige in the Negro Leagues. Leroy "Satchel" Paige should be remembered as the Greatest pitcher Of All Time. Or if it's easier, the GOAT.