My Summer with Satchel Paige
by Wes Tooke
155 pages of baseball history for intermediate readers and sports fans
It had been just over a year that Nick had entered the hospital over 500 miles from home. Nick had contracted polio and he needed to be at the Mayo Clinic if he were going to survive. Miraculously he has fought through the fever and the tingling and the paralysis. He right leg was weakened, but he could walk with a brace thought the heavy leather and iron chafed his leg.
He hadn’t seen his dad much in all that time. It was far too come, so he’d been alone most of the time. Now Nick was going home. It would go back to being just his dad and him, and with his brace the only thing they had in common, baseball, was out of the question. His father saw him as a cripple and cripples couldn’t play.
His dad was the catcher for the Bismark Churchills and since Mr. Churchill had made sure that most of Nick hospital bills were taken care of, Nick was working for the team. He didn’t mind. He’d spent most of his time before at the stadium with his dad, but this was different. His dad seemed angry and ashamed.
Mr. Churchill is happy to see Nick back and getting better. He’s also excited because he’s been able to convince Satchel Paige to pitch for the season. He’s predicting that the Churchills will go all the way and he is counting on Nick to help get there too. Nick strikes up a relationship with the pitcher who takes an interest in him. He helps him reestablish his stride by telling him he can count on himself more that he thinks. Satchel lets him know that if he believes he is crippled, he will be. He let’s him know there are other choice too be made. “Ain’t no man can avoid being born average, but there ain’t no man got to be common.”
King of the Mound is a great look at semiprofessional baseball in the 1930’s. It is interesting to learn of how segregation influenced with whom and where Churchills could play. There are many obstacles to be overcome in the game and in life – keeping your eye on the ball and on the prize can make things happen. After you read about Satchel and Nick let us know what you think.