National News

Fire destroys once-home of Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige

Posted May 30, 2018 1:24 p.m. EDT

— An early-morning house fire destroyed a home that once belonged to a key player in Kansas City's baseball history.

Just before 3 a.m. Tuesday, fire crews were called to a home on 28th Street in Kansas City, Missouri.

When they arrived, the home was fully engulfed in flames. At one point firefighters evacuated the home due to concerns with the roof.

The home was abandoned but was once owned by Hall of Fame pitcher and former KC Monarch Satchel Paige.

Paige was the first African-American pitcher to play in a World Series and played a game with the KC A's at age 59.

"Me and my little sister, we used to make mud jump rope and have my brother pull us in the wagon," Lula Paige, Satchel's daughter, said of her childhood at the house.

"It's kind of sad for my family, because this is a history house for them," Andrea Paige, Satchel's granddaughter, added.

Carter Foster and his wife moved onto the block while Paige still lived in the home, and said Tuesday morning that he hated to see the home go the way it did.

"This was a kind of landmark, and we are really going to miss that," Foster said.

The house looks much different than it did when the Paige family called it home. It's boarded up and has been the subject of 47 property violations with the city since 2010. Current owner Brian Cushon inherited the house from his mother in 2016 and said they've struggled to keep squatters and their litter away from the property. Cushon added that just two weeks ago, a neighbor saw someone entering the house.

News of Tuesday morning's fire was devastating to Jan Johnson, a member of the Santa Fe Area Council. The neighborhood association just discussed finding the funding to restore the house at a meeting last weekend.

"When you have a house like this, you just don't bulldoze it," Johnson said.

Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, said the museum also had hopes of one day making the home into something more.

"In the back of our minds, we had hoped to do something to help people understand the greatness of Satchel Paige - who was a part of this community for so many years," Kendrick said.

Cushon confirmed to 41 Action News both the neighborhood association and the NLBM have asked him not to bulldoze the house until someone can take a closer look at the structure.

"We prefer to think that it hasn't been destroyed, that there's a hiccup in our process and we have to deal with it," Johnson said.

The Paige family just wishes something would have been done sooner.

"I feel like they should've kept it and kept it up, and it could have been a family house. Maybe if it was more of a family house like it used to be, then it wouldn't be like this right now," Andrea Paige said.

Crews are still working to determine the cause of the fire.