City officials, community leaders and family members of baseball great Satchel Paige on Monday unveiled a long-sought development plan to save and renovate the late pitcher’s former home in Kansas City.
The local group Pitch Perfect KC was chosen by the city to lead the redevelopment efforts for the fire-damaged, 2 1/2-story home in the city’s historic Santa Fe neighborhood with plans to convert it into a “historic community asset.”
The group has partnered with the Kansas City Royals on the project, city planning director Jeffrey Williams told reporters gathered outside of the structure.
The house, he said, “has tremendous significance for those who know history of Satchel Paige and the Negro Leagues, and really, the entire history of baseball,” he said.
The announcement came on the 50th anniversary of Paige’s election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. — the first Black player to be inducted into the Hall by thec.
Paige’s daughter Pam O’Neal, who grew up in the house and still lives nearby, attended the announcement and called it a “great day for our family and our neighborhood.”
The house has been vacant for decades and efforts to find a way to revitalize it have been underway for nearly as long. Those efforts, however, suffered a setback when it sustained significant damage from a fire three years ago.
But determination to find a viable reconstruction team and a financing source finally paid off this summer as Pitch Perfect KC received commitments from area charitable foundations and a $500,000 state grant to help pay for the project.
Paige, considered one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history, bought the home in 1950 and lived there until 1982, just before his death. It is highlighted by a large masonry porch and three white arches. The home was originally built in 1910.
Paige made his debut with the Kansas City Monarchs of the segregated Negro Leagues in 1935, playing one season, and then returned for seven years from 1940-47, winning the Negro Leagues World Series in 1942.
During his 1948 season with the Cleveland Indians, Paige became the first Black player to pitch in the MLB World Series.
While living in the home, Paige was noted for hosting star-studded gatherings for Black athletes, musicians and others who were banned from Kansas City’s public accommodations during the segregation era.
While the pitcher cooked meals, it was not uncommon for Duke Ellington or Count Basie to play piano there or for members of the Harlem Globetrotters to gather on the front porch, the Kansas City Star reported.
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