Article Date: 3/1/2013

Lessons Learned

In Great Demand

Baseball’s oldest rookie, Satchel Paige, delivered memorable life lessons.



Lee Walburn was the editor of Atlanta Weekly Magazine for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a sports writer for the Atlanta Journal, and then PR director for the Atlanta Braves. He is the source of a couple of lessons I shall hereby impart.

We both write columns for our local newspaper, although his is professional and weekly, whereas mine is amateur and weakly, averaging about once a month. Mine has a blurb at the end that brags about my columns having received state and national awards.

His column has no such a blurb. Yet I recently discovered he has received more than 200 awards (as compared to my measly five) for his writing. It reminded me that boastfulness is not a good character trait. (Evidently, I’m a slow learner — I noticed that the braggadocio still appeared following my last column.)

Through the years he has known many famous people: Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, and Henry Aaron, among many others. But the one he remembers most as a source for the lessons of life is Satchel Paige, as Lee tells us here:

Oldest rookie

Satchel Paige was the most interesting athlete I ever met. In 1968, when I was employed as public relations director of the Atlanta Braves, the team placed Paige on the roster so he could qualify for a pension.

Satch was the oldest rookie in the history of major league baseball, not for lack of talent, but because several decades prior to signing with the Cleveland Indians, he was born black. By the time major league baseball welcomed the great heroes of the Negro League, Paige was 42 or 48, depending on what he said, or what his mother said was written in her Bible.


He left passes

He was enormously popular from the start. Cleveland Indians general manager, Bill Veeck, noticed that at every ball park the Indians visited, Satchel would leave a pass for Mrs. Paige. Finally Veeck said to Paige, “Satch, are you or are you not married?”

“I am not,” Satch replied. “But I am in great demand.”

Many old timers swore Satch was the greatest pitcher who ever lived. His control was so remarkable, at age 62 he could still throw strikes over a chewing gum wrapper. I saw him do it.

Wise observations

But these days we remember Satchel Paige for his wise observations about life more than testimonies to his talent. I remember his retort to a young reporter’s smart-aleck reference to his age. Satch harumphed and said, “Son, how old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was?”

He once boasted, “I may just live forever.” He didn’t, but he did leave behind his famous rules for staying young:

1. Avoid fried meats that anger up the blood.

2. If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts.

3. Keep the juices jangling around gently as you move.

4. Go lightly on the vices, such as carrying on in society.

5. Avoid running at all times.

6. Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you.

7. Never stand up if you can sit down, and never sit down when you can lie down.

Dr. Oz couldn’t have given better advice. OM


Optometric Management, Volume: 48 , Issue: March 2013, page(s): 90