Satchel Paige's MLB debut was pitching magic –

Satchel Paige’s debut was different, very different, from the other baseball pioneers of his time. Paige pitched in his first Major League game 70 years ago this week, and it was an event unlike anything before or since.

Paige was the seventh African-American player in modern Major League Baseball. The first six were:

No. 1. Jackie Robinson, Dodgers (obviously)

No. 2. Larry Doby, Cleveland

Nos. 3 and 4. Hank Thompson and Willard Brown, St. Louis Browns. Theirs isn’t an often-told story. The Browns were a dead-end team, and they wanted something, anything, to help, and Thompson and Brown were stars on the Kansas City Monarchs. It was a disaster. Thompson and Brown were treated terribly by teammates. Fans didn’t come out to see them. Both struggled and never really had much of a chance to prove themselves.

Brown, a sensational Negro Leagues player who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006, did make his mark by becoming the first African-American to homer in the American League. Thompson returned to the big leagues with the Giants two years later and ended up having a fine career, including two seasons in which he received a National League MVP Award vote.

No. 5. Dan Bankhead, Dodgers. Another sad story. Bankhead was an extraordinary Negro Leagues pitcher, but he could not deal with the unfair pressure of being the first African-American pitcher in the Major Leagues. His son talked about how he pitched defensively for fear of hitting a batter and sparking a riot; Bankhead returned to the Dodgers three years later, in 1950. His big moment was homering in his first career at-bat.

No. 6.: Roy Campanella, Dodgers

There are four Hall of Famers among the first six, but none of them had a debut like that of Satchel Paige.

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