Baseball History: Chuck Stevens and Satchel Paige

chuck stevens 1952Chuck Stevens is a name that is sometimes forgotten in the history of baseball.

Stevens played in three seasons in the major leagues with the St. Louis Browns in 1941, 1946 and 1948. He was a career .251 hitter with four homers and 55 RBI.

Born on July 10, 1918, Stevens is one of the oldest players still around as he turns 97 this week.

Like many others, his time on the baseball field was interrupted by military service for three years during World War II. ,Stevens was a part of several championship teams as a player and manager in the minors. He appeared in two movies, including The Stratton Story that featured Jimmy Stewart.

Stevens also served the Association of Professional Ball Players of America for many years and the organization has an award honoring him.

Although Stevens did not have a notable big league career, he does have a link to one of the most memorable players in baseball thanks to something that happened 67 years ago on July 9, 1948.

Just two days prior to this event, the Cleveland Indians had signed an old 40-something rookie on his birthday that many viewed as a publicity stunt.

Cleveland manager Lou Boudreau called on his rookie to relieve Bob Lemon, who was done after four innings and trailed the Browns 4-1. Stevens ruined the debut of the legendary Satchel Paige with a single. Paige would finish the day with two scoreless innings.

Satchel_Paige_1949_BowmanDuring July, Paige was 1-1 in eight games for the Indians as they battled the Boston Red Sox for the American League pennant. For the rest of the season, Paige won five contests with three complete games and a save.

Overall, Paige ended 1948 with a 6-1 record and a 2.48 ERA, while appearing in 21 games for the eventual world champion Indians. He also became the first African-American to pitch in the World Series. The next season, he was 4-7 in his final year with Cleveland.

In 1951, Paige was back in the big leagues with the Browns with a 3-4 record. The next season, he was an all-star as he posted a 12-10 mark. He ended his time with the Browns in 1953 at 3-9.

By 1965, Paige was nearing 60-years old. He managed to throw three scoreless innings for the Kansas City Athletics as he started against the Red Sox on Sept. 25. He surrendered a hit to future National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Carl Yastrzemski, while striking out fellow hurler Bill Monbouquette.

Paige would enter the Hall of Fame as the first player from the Negro Leagues in 1971. However, he has the unique distinction of being the only pitcher to have a losing record in the shine at 28-31.

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