Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bill Veek, Dempsey Hovland, Virgil Trucks, Satchel Paige, Caribbean Kings

I’ve seen most of ‘em,” said  Bill Veeck, “Including Bob Feller and all the others, and he knows- and knew- more about pitching than any of them.  Satchel Paige is the greatest.”
            Then why didn’t you sign him, Smith wondered.
            “Because Staley and Lown were going good. They would have had to sit on the bench if Satch had been with us.  That would have made them angry.”
            By the time Paige reached the podium at the Madison Wisconsin  basketball banquet, it had already been a busy couple months.  After returning from Mexico, his wife Lahoma gave birth to a baby girl (Rita Jean) on February 9.  Then it was up to Wisconsin to finalize arrangements for a 150-game barnstorming tour (and attend the first of what would be dozens of paid speaking engagements). Around January, he had inked a deal with writer David Lipman and Doubleday & Company to pen his memoirs. It might not be the “easy” Hollywood money, but he was lining up a nice ten-to-twelve month revenue stream.  He now had a wife and seven kids to take care of.
            The man who got fogged out of the car with Satchel on the ride up to Madison was a booking agent from Beloit named Dempsey Hovland.  Hovland was putting together an outfit called the “Caribbean Kings,” who would travel the country and Canada,.  The Wisconsin entrepreneur had already secured the services of ex-major leaguer Virgil Trucks, and several young Cuban ballplayers. Hovland was also the Owner of the Texas Cowgirls a female touring team that played mens rules beating male teams 80% of their cross country seasons more tan 160 games a year. Paige often travelled with Hovland's Cowgirls entertaining the sold out crowds at halftime with his pitching exhibitions.  Hovland also arranged Paige's public speaking engagements.  Hovland and Paige's relationship began when Hovland played for The House of David Ball Club in the thirties.  

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