Jesse Jarnow

satchel paige’s rules for how to stay young

In the Great American Novel, Philip Roth compares legendary Negro League pitcher Satchel Paige to Mark Twain’s slave Jim, from Huckleberry Finn. “Students of Literatoor, professors, and small boys who recall Jim’s comical lingo will not be fooled just because Satch has dispensed with the thick dialect he used for speaking in Mr. Twain’s book.”

Paige’s six-point list for “How To Stay Young” (first published in Collier’s in 1953 and reproduced by Roth) sounds like it’s straight out of Twain, though (I think) could be any one of Twain’s folk weirdoes, white or black. Or maybe I’m just a white liberal.

1. Avoid fried meats which angry up the blood.

2. If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts.

3. Keep the juices flowing by jangling around gently as you move.

4. Go very light on the vices, such as carrying on in society. The social ramble ain’t restful.

5. Avoid running at all times.

6. Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.

I think often about #4.