Thank you to Eric Trent and The Chronicle for the article on Satchel Paige and Bucoda baseball. I am longing for the day to hear the crack of the bat in Borst Park again. The article triggered a family memory of history and sport.
Just as many towns like Bucoda and Centralia had a city baseball team, there were also competitive teams attached to industry. During the 1930s, when times were hard, many men who had athletic ability were able to get a job for a company and then play baseball in what was called the industrial league, as well as local semi-pro teams in towns.
My dad, Thor Peterson, was able to work summers helping to support his parents working in a mill in Hoquiam and playing baseball for the company team. I think the Olympic Stadium in Hoquiam must have been relatively new as it was a Civilian Conservation Corp project when Satchel Paige came to Hoquiam. I am now assuming it was 1940.
Thor had some ability and was hitting a .500 average in this competitive league. He faced Satchel Paige in the first inning and got a hit. Not many people can say that. Satchel was probably tired after so many days on the road traveling all around including small town Pacific Northwest. As was his habit he worked through the line up, but stayed until Thor came up again. As Thor walked up to the plate, Satchel walked halfway toward his catcher noting Thor as the batter who had gotten the hit. Dad’s story is that he never saw the ball again, but heard it hit the catcher’s mitt three times. Can you imagine how fast and hard Satchel Paige could pitch? Can you imagine a good hitter never even seeing the ball?
Dad was able to trade his athletic ability into a job and then a scholarship to Stanford University. Satchel Paige continued to travel in a bus, but did end up with the Cleveland ball club. I now wonder if Ed Wheeler ever passed him in the locker room.