I love being reminded that the world before the 1960s was actually in color, just like ours. I really love being reminded by color film of baseball players. And when it's a recently discovered clip from 1948, featuring Satchel Paige? I'm all buttercups and puppy-dog tails ...
For more on the film and where and it came from, here's Mark Inabinett in AL.com. I must quibble with something he wrote that's something of a throwaway line, I'm sure ...
In 1948, the biggest star of black baseball during the game's segregated era finally made his big-league debut with the Cleveland Indians. As a 42-year-old (officially listed age) rookie, Paige had a 6-1 record with a 2.48 earned-run average for Cleveland. The Indians used the oldest rookie in Major League Baseball history mainly as a reliever after signing Paige in July, although he did pitch a pair of shutouts among his seven starts.
At the Los Angeles exhibition game, Paige would have been less than one month removed from the Indians' four-games-to-two World Series victory over the Boston Braves. Paige pitched just two-thirds of an inning in that World Series, retiring both batters that he faced.
Despite being a marginal major leaguer at the time, Paige was one of the most famous players in baseball - a legend built on stories of his outlandish exploits on the mound in the Negro Leagues, testimonials from white players who had faced him on postseason tours (Joe DiMaggio said Paige was the "best and fastest" pitcher he ever saw), his larger-than-life personality and unmatched quotability.
Obviously, it depends on how you define "marginal" but that 2.48 earned-run average suggests that Paige was better than that. He was marginal, I think, only if you believe that all relief pitchers in that era were marginal. Which isn't an unreasonable stance. I guess. He was really good in 1948, though. In '49, too.
And Paige, who turned 43 in 1949, also pitched really well for the St. Louis Browns in 1952, when he turned 46. And in 1956, Paige debuted in Organized Baseball's minor leagues and pitched brilliantly for the Phillies' Triple-A affiliate in Miami, going 11-4 with a 1.86 ERA in 111 innings. He continued to pitch effectively for two more seasons, including in 1958 when he turned fifty-two years old.
We still haven't quite figured out exactly how talented Satchel Paige was, since we have few meaningful statistics for Paige in his prime. But he did some things that nobody else has ever done.