The Paige Pitch (Diet for Dreamers)

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Never let your head hang down.  Never give up and sit down and grieve.  Find another way.  And don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines. —Satchel Paige

He attracted record crowds wherever he pitched, and for close to 15 years and throughout countless innings, he was considered “unhittable”! Today, decades after he reigned on the pitcher’s mound, his fastball is still the stuff of legend. According to a 2010 article in Sports Illustrated, Leroy “Satchel” Paige (July 7, 1906 to June 8, 1982) was “perhaps the most precise pitcher in baseball history — he threw ludicrously hard. And he also threw hundreds and hundreds of innings.”

In 1971, Paige was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame — the first African-American player to earn the distinction. In 1981, veteran actor Louis Gossett Jr. portrayed the pitcher in the biopic Don’t Look Back. In 1999, Paige was ranked Number 19 on a list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players. And in 2006, he was further honored when a statue of Satchel Paige was unveiled in Cooper Park, in Cooperstown, New York.

But of far greater interest, Paige was positive proof that sometimes dreams can take years to completely achieve — but you’re never too old to pursue them! The world-famous pitcher had practiced, played, and pursued baseball since he was 10 years old, batting around discarded bottle caps with a stick, always dreaming about the diamond sport. His mother once commented that Satchel would rather “play baseball than eat. It was always baseball, baseball.” And yet, it took nearly four decades for him to make the big leagues!

Along the way, Satchel encountered a few bumps in the road to success. He earned his nickname as a kid, while carrying luggage at a train station. Because he could only earn a dime for each bag he carried, the youth devised a clever means of making more money to help support his struggling family: he would place two bags at each end of a sturdy pole, and then carefully lift the pole to his shoulders. Walking through the station while balancing the weight of four bags was backbreaking work! And one of his fellow porters remarked that Paige looked like a tree that was growing satchels!

There were other, moral and emotional, struggles the youth faced. After frequently skipping school and occasionally shoplifting, Paige was arrested at age 13 and committed to reform school — for five years. But the determined dreamer spent those years practicing baseball with a savvy Alabama coach who helped Paige develop a great deal of his pitching strategy. Talk about God working all things together for good! (Romans 8:28)

Satchel Paige once said, “…Age is a state of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”

Paige also had to deal with racism and bigotry. Throughout the 1920s and 30s he played only in the “Negro Leagues.” He also pitched in exhibition games for barnstorming teams across the United States; and he even played baseball in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. But it wasn’t until 1948 that he signed his first big league contract, for $40,000 with the Cleveland Indians. Thus, at the age of 42, Paige became the oldest major league rookie in baseball!

The journey to fulfilling his dream had been long and difficult, but Paige felt he was still “young” enough to make the most of his success. He played baseball until he was 60! In fact, even after his “retirement,” he stayed active in a variety of pursuits. He published his autobiography, coached, made appearances on TV game shows, and even ran (unsuccessfully) for a Missouri state assembly seat.

And in 1969, at 63, Paige returned to the mound for an exhibition game. Between innings he sipped coffee in the bullpen while resting in a rocking chair. But during the game he showed his stuff — and struck out another baseball legend, Don Drysdale!

Satchel Paige always pursued his life and dreams with the enthusiasm of a young man. Whenever a reporter would ask Paige about his advancing years, in regards to pursuing his love of baseball, the pitcher would simply reply, “If someone asked you how old you were — and you didn’t know your age — how old would you think you were?”

Have you been chasing a dream for years? Do you wonder if you’re getting too far along in life to ever catch it? Here’s a thought we’d like to pitch to you. We call it the The Paige Pitch: You’re only as old as you think — and you’re never too old to pursue your dreams!

“I will be your God throughout your lifetime — until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.” (Isaiah 46:4 NLT)

“…The people that know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” (Daniel 11:32 ASV)

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A Little Teamwork Can Be a Lifesaver (Encouragement for Creators)

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The cool thing about creators is that we find them in a variety of occupations. Creators aren’t just writers, artists, actors and filmmakers. Chefs create and cook new culinary masterpieces. Crafters design and assemble unique works of art. Inventors and entrepreneurs create new devices, processes and services, and then find new ways of marketing these. In fact, there are as many types and examples of inspired creativity as there are facets on a diamond — or flavors in a pack of Life Savers.

Clarence Crane created the first Life Savers candy in 1912. Not much is known about the Cleveland, Ohio, candy maker, except that he was the father of yet another creator, the famed American Poet Hart Crane. We do know, however, that Clarence Crane invented Life Savers as a “summer candy” that would resist melting. His circular mints were molded to resemble the flotation devices used at beach resorts. Crane didn’t own machinery needed to mold his “Pep-O-Mint Life Savers,” so he contracted a pill manufacturer to press the mints into shape.

In 1913, Crane transferred his “diamond” to Edward Noble, a New Yorker who would further “polish the gem.” Noble bought Crane’s Life Savers formula for $2,900. Noble started a company that had the capability to mix and mold the candies. He also devised a better way to package Life Savers to prevent the candies from going stale. His company hand-wrapped rolls of Life Savers in foil and then affixed paper labels. The process proved to be labor intensive, but in 1919 Noble’s brother Robert, an engineer, developed machinery that completely automated the wrapping process.

A year later, Robert Noble continued to be a creative force in the company. He expanded on his younger brother’s entrepreneurial vision by first introducing newspaper ads and then expanding the company by building larger, more streamlined manufacturing facilities. He also began introducing a spectrum of colorful new flavors.

In 1921 the Nobles created fruit-flavored Life Savers, which were translucent, almost crystalline in appearance. In 1925, the company further improved its manufacturing process and devised a method of actually putting a hole in the center of the candies. The original chalk-white mints were simply molded to resemble lifesaver flotation rings. The new Life Savers were introduced as the “fruit drop with the hole”!

The Nobles continued to promote their candy by creating special box displays that allowed LifeSavers to be positioned next to the cash registers in cigar stores, drug stores, barber shops, and restaurants. They held the price at 5 cents  for years, encouraging shoppers to trade that nickel in their change for a roll of Life Savers. To say the candies were popular is an understatement: during the Second World War, the little Life Savers were a heat-resistant favorite candy among the Armed Forces, and a sweet reminder of life at home. And to make sure there were enough Life Savers to go around, competing candy companies willingly donated their own sugar rations to meet the production demands of the Nobles’ company! That’s teamwork!

Great ideas and savvy innovation are simply facets of the “creative diamond”! One creator may unearth a “gem”; another cuts it; another polishes it. You can be creative, either by inventing, creating, innovating or facilitating. “It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.” (1 Corinthians 3:7-8 NLT)

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