‘I Grew Up on a Baseball Diamond’

By Ralph E. Moore
Special to the AFRO

The legendary pitcher, Satchel Paige, once said to Luther ‘Luke’ Atkinson, “You are a second baseman, go play second base!” And with that no nonsense command, the Wilson, N.C. 21-year old was off to a career in Negro League Baseball. Atkinson worked in the Purina grain mill to earn a living (paid $120 a month). And his understanding, baseball-loving boss worked with him on scheduling, so he could get on the bus and play some away games for the Satchel Paige All Stars, named for the legendary then player-coach.

Luther ‘Luke’ Atkinson. (Courtesy Photo)

“ We didn’t know we were making history.  We were just trying to get to the next level,” Atkinson said in an interview. “Hats off to Jackie Robinson.  He broke into the Major Leagues alone. We tried to do it as a team.” Playing baseball was a life changing experience for me,” Atkinson said the team had a bus but they couldn’t stop to eat certain places. “We ate on the bus or brought along food that wouldn’t go bad.” The Satchel Paige All Stars, were young men coached by the more senior Paige. They could hear harassing, racist remarks on the road to games and at…

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