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Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow

Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow

by James Sturm, Gerald Early (Introduction), Rich Tommaso (Illustrator)

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Baseball Hall of Famer Leroy "Satchel" Paige (1905? 1982) changed the face of the game in a career that spanned five decades. Much has been written about this larger-than-life pitcher, but when it comes to Paige, fact does not easily separate from fiction. He made a point of writing his own historyand then re-writing it. A tall, lanky fireballer, he was arguably the


Baseball Hall of Famer Leroy "Satchel" Paige (1905? 1982) changed the face of the game in a career that spanned five decades. Much has been written about this larger-than-life pitcher, but when it comes to Paige, fact does not easily separate from fiction. He made a point of writing his own historyand then re-writing it. A tall, lanky fireballer, he was arguably the Negro League's hardest thrower, most entertaining storyteller and greatest gate attraction. Now the Center for Cartoon Studies turns a graphic novelist's eye to Paige's story. Told from the point of view of a sharecropper, this compelling narrative follows Paige from game to game as he travels throughout the segregated South.

In stark prose and powerful graphics, author and artist share the story of a sports hero, role model, consummate showman, and era-defining American.

Editorial Reviews

Kevin Baker
It's a haunting story in which Sturm's text poignantly conveys the quiet bitterness of his hero, and Tommaso's spare, two-tone drawings brilliantly contrast the physical beauty of the old, rural South with the savagery of its social institutions. An abiding air of menace hangs over the story like a gathering storm cloud. The authors refuse to look away from anything, not even lynching, although the material remains suitable—even vital—for most children. Paige himself is as elusive here as he was in real life, but Sturm and Tommaso, along with an excellent introduction by Gerald Early, provide a telling glimpse of this consummate showman, entrepreneur and competitor, who pitched into his mid-60s and against all odds managed to rise above both the black game and the white one.
—The New York Times
AGERANGE: Ages 11 to 18.

Brief segments from Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige's life make up part of this graphic novel, including his storied career, his larger-than-life personality, and his on-field antics. Fictional ballplayer Emmet Wilson's story is also told. Wilson, the narrator, hurts his knee as a young player in the Negro Leagues after getting a hit off Satchel Paige. His career ruined, Wilson puts baseball out of his mind and returns home to his family and to a job as a sharecropper. The novel jumps between Paige's baseball career and high-flying life to Wilson's difficult existence and struggles with the Jim Crow laws of the thirties and forties. Paige later comes to Wilson's town to play a game against Wilson's bigoted bosses. The pitcher's performance ultimately gives Wilson and his young son hope and inspiration as to what one can become despite tough times and circumstances. This brief graphic novel packs a punch. The title may throw off readers as it is not strictly a Satchel Paige biography. It is both a well-written and a well-researched story of not only baseball but also of the segregated times that African Americans faced. The black-and-white artwork is simple yet dramatic, and both the words and the art mesh wonderfully together. Ultimately Wilson's story and the history of the times are more engaging than the baseball scenes. This book promises to be widely read and is made to order for middle school boys. Reviewer: Jeff Mann
April 2008 (Vol. 31, No. 1)

Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
It is 1929, and Emmet is full of hope and sure of his baseball abilities as he leaves his young wife and infant son to play against the great Satchel Paige and begin a career as a professional ball player. He gets a hit and scores a run but injures his knee. He remembers Paige staring down at him and saying, "Here you go, boy, a souvenir of your playin' days," as he hands him the baseball which becomes an important part of this story. Emmet has no choice but to return home and work as a sharecropper. This novel covers the years from 1929 to 1944. The reader sees, reads, and feels the injustices and threats that plagued African Americans in the segregated South. This story is told simultaneously with the growing popularity of the great pitcher, Satchel Paige. The strong visuals give a good depiction of life in the early twentieth century. The variety of angles and perspectives create excitement in the baseball sequences. There is one use of the "N" word when an angry white man shouts at Satchel Paige. The back matter presents information and discussion points. This graphic novel would make a good starting place for researching and learning about twentieth century U. S. history. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up
Satchel Paige, the great pitcher who flourished both in the Negro Leagues and the Major Leagues, gets his own graphic novel. Told in flashback, the story takes place during the Jim Crow days where baseball was a genteel pastime, with the elderly seated under shady grandstands while black players abided the sickening and arbitrary restrictions placed on them. A period piece rather than a biography, the narrative captures the daily action of sporting contests against local racists and Paige's dignity and resilience. Baseball and small-town Southern life are both slow paced, and this title moves slowly too-frames depicting Paige tying his shoelace or pitches that go for balls may seem out of place, but they set the pace and mood for this affecting look into a near forgotten way of life. The stylized art is an absolute gem, resembling Chris Ware's work, with many repeated images and sequential frames that change only slightly across the page. Paige's mystique as a lifelong survivor in the brutal world of early- to mid-20th-century race relations and sport will attract readers. The depiction of what daily life was like during this period is the real subject of this title, and it should be a marvelous discovery for teens.
—John LeightonCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
6.75(w) x 10.25(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
10 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

James Sturm's graphic novel The Golem's Mighty Swing was named "Best Comic 2001" by Time Magazine. In 2004, his Marvel Comics graphic novel Unstable Molecules won the prestegious Eisner Award. James' writings and illustrations have appeared in scores of national and regional publications, including The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Onion, The New York Times, The LA Weekly and on the cover of the The New Yorker. James is the co-founder and director of The Center for Cartoon Studies, America's premiere cartooning school, located in White River Junction, VT.

Rich Tommaso has been writing and drawing original comics and graphic novels for over ten years. He has worked for such publishers as Fantagraphics Books, Top Shelf Productions, Dark Horse Comics, Chronicle Books, and Alternative Comics. He has received accolades from many magazines and trade papers, including Publisher's Weekly, Spin Magazine (which did a full page spread about his debut graphic novel, Clover Honey), Wizard Magazine, The CBG, and The Comics Journal. Rich lives in Vermont.

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