President Joe Biden referred to legendary baseball pitcher Satchel Paige during his Veterans’ Day speech on Thursday referring to him as “the great negro.”
“You know, I’ve adopted the attitude of the great negro at the time, pitcher in the negro leagues, went on to become a great pitcher in the pros, in the Major League Baseball after Jackie Robison, his name was Satchel Paige,” Biden said as he began his speech.
The president appeared to have stumbled over his rhetoric, retelling a story he has repeated throughout the latter years of his political career about Paige, who pitched a winning game on his 47th birthday.
The story goes, as Biden tells it, that the press asked Paige about how he felt pitching a winning game at such an advanced age.
Biden quoted Paige saying, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?”
“I’m 50 years old,” said Biden, before continuing his speech noting “all kidding aside.”
Biden also told a version of this story to Pope Francis at the Vatican, comparing the pontiff and himself as political leaders who were advanced in age, just like Paige.
“You’re sixty-five and I’m sixty!” Biden told the pope.