by Tahira Carter
Cameron University came to life with a visit from one of baseball history’s biggest stars, Leroy “Satchel” Paige at 7 p.m. on Sept. 12, in the McCasland Ballroom.
Actor and playwright Cedric Liqueur presented the life and accomplishments of the legendary baseball star in a 90-minute solo presentation that captured the full attention of the audience.
High energy, quirky mannerisms and musical selections played on an antique record player set the groundwork for an evening that proved to be both educational and entertaining.
Athletics Director Jim Jackson saw the advertisement for Cedric Liqueur’s show and, in an effort to connect the worlds of sports and academics, took advantage of the opportunity to have Liqueur present at Cameron.
“We try to educate beyond the playing field,” Jackson said. “I know that most of our student-athletes had never heard of Satchel Paige. He was around at a time when blacks were not allowed to play in the Major Leagues and he was there when they broke the color barrier.”
Leroy Paige would go on to become one of the first African-Americans to play for the Major Leagues and the first of the Negro League Stars to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
With the impact that Paige made on history, it was only natural that the Athletics Department teamed with the History Department to plan the elaboration of the event.
“Jim Jackson, the Athletic Director, contacted me and mentioned that he wanted to emphasize to the athletes – students first and athletes second – that what they do in the classroom is important too,” Chair of the History and Government Department Dr. Lance Janda said. “Jackson did most of the heavy lifting but we publicized it with students and talked about what had to be done and I hope that this will be the first of a lot of activities like this.”
Dr. Janda was among the audience members that thoroughly enjoyed Cedric Liqueur’s presentation of the athlete.
“It was a wonderful activity,” Dr. Janda said. “A lot of people appreciate stories and they appreciate learning things in a more evocative way than just reading a book or hearing a professor lecture about it.”
Sophomore Psychology major Alexis Smith also enjoyed the show and said that the actor did a great job of personifying the baseball legend.
“I enjoyed the event and the actor seemed like he was there the entire time that Satchel lived. It was a very amazing portrayal of a great athlete,” Smith said.
Cedric Liqueur chose to portray Leroy Paige because of his deep interest in the man that “Satchel” was behind the fame. “I really wanted to find out who he was outside of baseball. What made him laugh, what made him cry, who he really admired,” Liqueur said.
Conversations with Paige’s daughter, Linda Shelby Paige, in addition to the information published in the athlete’s two autobiographies helped Liqueur gain the inside information that he needed to ‘become’ the legend onstage.
The play debuted in February of this year at the Tennessee Tec University and Liqueur said that the material has changed a little with each performance because of the feedback that he receives at his shows.
“My opening shot was a very small group with maybe 30 people there and I have learned from that performance. Each performance I learn more about him by talking to people who knew him so I’m always changing it,” Liqueur said.