When I was growing up, one of the first comic books I ever read was a baseball comic. It was by some very small publisher and I remember finding it on a spinner rack in a convenience store on East 15th Street and Kings Highway in Brooklyn. The store is still there but the spinner rack is not, much to my chagrin. The comic in question was about All-Star and Hall of Fame center-fielder Mickey Mantle, who was the centerpiece of the New York Yankees outfield for years. I don’t remember much about the title other than its cover, which was striking to me at the time with a somewhat on the money rendition of the famous baseball player. Other than that very issue, baseball comics have not nearly as prevalent as one would expect from a society that coined the game in the first place. I mean sure there were comics back in the 1920′s and 1930′s, but not much modern stuff to come by. In Japan that is very different, with baseball manga found all over, both as biographical and fictional material. I could go on and on about why American society never really embraced baseball comic books but I won’t, for your sake.
Instead, I will go about mentioning a comic book I will be purchasing in about two minutes that is exactly what I was hoping to find.
Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow is a book written by James Sturm with art by Rick Tommaso that tells the story of Satchel’s career from the eyes of a sharecropper in the American South. For those of you unfamiliar with the name Satchel Paige, he was the first black pitcher in the Major Leagues and the oldest player to make his debut at age 42. In the ComixMix review, Andrew Wheeler describes the book as “profoundly worthy.”
There’s no other reason for Satchel Paige to exist; it’s a book about a man who played baseball so well that even racists had to admit his abilities.
If not for people like Satchel Paige, the game of baseball would be quite a different place today. I’m looking forward to learning more about the guy, especially from the view of an observer as opposed to a straight biography or autobiography. The book is available on Amazon and other retailers for $10 and under, so if you’re looking to get a history of one of the most influential ball players of our time, look no further.