A Paige from history
UD's McKenna finds rare photo of baseball legend in Baltimore
9:49 a.m., Oct. 13, 2014--Just as Major League Baseball, and fans in Baltimore, progress through the postseason, a University of Delaware professor is publicizing the discovery of a photo of the legendary Negro League pitcher Satchel Paige in a Baltimore Black Sox uniform.
Bernard McKenna, associate professor of English, has been researching the history of baseball’s segregated years with an eye to writing a book on the subject. A lifelong baseball fan who grew up near the Baltimore Orioles’ old Memorial Stadium, his work has focused on that city.
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McKenna earlier got wide attention in the world of baseball history for his research into old aerial photos of Baltimore, which he used to find the locations of two former Negro League ballparks Maryland Park and Westport Park whose sites had never before been pinpointed.
During that research, McKenna found a 1930 photo in the archives of the Baltimore Afro-American newspaper, showing five players with the Black Sox standing in a row in Maryland Park. Paige is on the far left, holding a baseball. The caption misspelled his last name as “Page,” which may be why the photo apparently was never publicized earlier.
McKenna believes it may be the only image of him in a Baltimore uniform; Paige had an unusually long career and played for many teams, but only stayed one season in Baltimore. The Afro-American recently gave permission for the photo to be reprinted.
"Satchel Paige made his reputation as a pitcher for the Kansas City Monarchs, so it seems appropriate, as the Kansas City Royals battle the Baltimore Orioles for the American League pennant, that we see Satchel Paige in a Baltimore uniform," McKenna said.
Next, he may write a scholarly work on Baltimore baseball history and racism in that city, which in 1911 enacted strict segregationist laws.
“You can’t talk about baseball without talking about civil rights,” McKenna said.
Photo used with permission of the Afro American Newspapers Archives and Research Center