The story that indicates how Ross Davis, born July 28, 1918 in Greenville, Mississippi, picked up the nickname “Satchel” is a testament to his pitching ability.
By the time he became a teenager; Davis had moved to St. Louis and gained notoriety as a pitcher in the city’s African American semi-professional leagues. He was tall and lean (6’2”, 165 pounds), but had a blazing fastball and sharp breaking curve. The story goes that one day “Satchel” Paige himself saw how hard the talented teenager threw the baseball and loudly began referring to young hurler as “my son”. The nickname, “Satchel”, stuck with Davis his entire short Negro League career.
In 1940 while with the Baltimore Elite Giants and only 22 years old, Ross “Satchel” Davis no-hit the Newark Eagles. His battery mate for that pitching gem was an eighteen year old Roy Campanella, who went on to have a Hall of Fame career in the Major Leagues. Pitching for the Cleveland Buckeyes in 1943, he defeated “Satchel” Paige in a head to head matchup.
Davis was drafted into military service after the 1943 season and contacted a serious case of hepatitis during World War II. He was advised to not play baseball again because of the lingering effects of his illness.
But Davis returned to the pitching mound after the war. First, he pitched in the short lived Untied States League and then in 1947 helped the Cleveland Buckeyes win the Negro American League (NAL) pennant. He retired after the season at only 29 years old due to the on-going battle with his illness.
Ross “Satchel” Davis died January 1, 2013 in Houston, Texas.
Who was Davis’ 18 year old battery mate for that 1940 no-hit pitching gem?