I Have Never Thrown an Illegal Pitch. The Trouble Is Some of My Pitches Were Never Seen By This Generation

Satchel Paige? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The U.S. baseball pitcher Leroy Satchel Paige was proud of his inventive style and expert control. When accused of breaking rules he replied with a marvelous remark about throwing pitches that had not been seen in a generation. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In March 1958 “The Miami Herald” published a profile that described Leroy Satchel Paige as a living legend. He was known for a ‘hesitation pitch’ which confused batters, but he did not claim to be its inventor. Also, he denied breaking rules. The term “straight-faced” was used as a verb in the following passage. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

“I have never thrown an illegal pitch,” he straight-faced. “The trouble is some of my pitches were never seen by this generation, until I came along.

“But you know a fella named (Rube) Waddell used that hesitation pitch of mine back in the 1890’s”

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

In August 1958 a story from the United Press International news service printed the remark: 2

When accused of throwing a spitball or using some other trick, Paige retorts: “I’ve never thrown an illegal pitch. The trouble is some of my pitches were never seen by this generation until I came along.”

In 1964 a newspaper in Rochester, New York published a version of the remark with a different phrasing: 3

His “Hesitation Pitch” was banned by Will Harridge, then American League president, as “deceitful.”

“I ain’t never throwed an illegal pitch,” Satch comments. “Trouble is once in a while I throws one that ain’t been seen in this generation.”

In 1965 a Texas newspaper acknowledged the “Catholic Digest” while discussing the ‘hesitation pitch’ and printing a version of Satchel’s statement: 4

They say that the first time Mickey Mantle saw it, he swung at it before Satch even let it go.

Comments Satchel “I ain’t never throwed an illegal pitch. Trouble is, once in a while I tosses one that ain’t never been seen by this generation.”

In conclusion, Satchel Paige deserves credit for the remark he made by 1958. The phrasing presented in newspaper accounts has been variable, and Satchel Paige probably delivered the line more than once.

Image Notes: Illustration of a baseball from Clker-Free-Vector-Images at Pixabay.


  1. 1958 March 5, The Miami Herald, Psychiatrist Satch Set for Season by Eddie Storin (Herald Sports Writer), Quote Page 5D, Column 6, Miami, Florida. (Newspapers_com)
  2. 1958 August 3, The Paducah Sun-Democrat, ?-Year-Old Satch Says He’ll Pitch 10 Years by Andrew Reese Jr. (United Press International), Quote Page 12A, Column 2, Paducah, Kentucky. (Newspapers_com)
  3. 1964 December 5, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Ol’ Satch, World Traveler: Bob Feller ‘Best Pitcher’ by Paul Pinckney (Democrat and Chronicle Sports Editor), Quote Page 3D, Column 3, Rochester, New York. (Newspapers_com)
  4. 1965 March 10, Tyler Morning Telegraph, Satchel’s ‘Hesitation Pitch’, Section 2, Quote Page 6, Column 1, Tyler, Texas. (Newspapers_com)