Fact Check: Biden DID Mention A 'Famous African-American Baseball Player' To The Pope -- In A Metaphor About Age

Fact Check

  • by: Christiana Dillard

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.

Fact Check: Biden DID Mention A 'Famous African-American Baseball Player' To The Pope -- In A Metaphor About Age Just A Story

Did President Joe Biden mention a "famous African-American baseball player" to Pope Francis? Yes, he did: But Biden was only setting up a metaphor about age. After the comment, Biden proceeded to tell the pope about Leroy "Satchel" Paige, a Negro leagues and major league pitcher who played professionally well into middle age. Biden used a quote from Paige to say elderly persons like the two of them are only as old as they feel.

The claim was presented in an Instagram post (archived here) published on October 30, 2021. It featured a clip that repeated several times of Biden shaking hands with the pope. Text in the video claimed that Biden was saying:

You're the famous African-American baseball player in America.

This is how the post looked on Instagram on November 2, 2021:

(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Tue Nov 2 19:14:16 2021 UTC)

The clip in the Instagram post was stripped of its context, and although the audio was muffled, Biden may have said "There was a famous African-American baseball player in America" rather than "You're the famous African-American baseball player in America." Biden, the nation's second Catholic president, visited the pope on October 29, 2021. Although footage of their entire conversation was not released, footage of Biden telling the story about Paige can be found starting at the 5:39-mark here. In it, Biden described how Paige, who was recruited to major league baseball at 42 years old, once responded to questions about his age with "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?" Biden, who is 78 years old, concluded the story by saying to the pope, who is 84 years old, "You're 65, I'm 60!"

A clip of the interaction is also embedded below:

(Source: YouTube video embedded on Tue Nov 2 19:16:57 2021 UTC)

Updates:

  • 2022-09-14T19:12:59Z 2022-09-14T19:12:59Z
    Updated to reflect that the audio in the clip may not match the alleged quote used in the post.

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  Christiana Dillard

Christiana Dillard is a former news writer for Temple University’s Lew Klein College of Media and Communication. She received her undergraduate degree in English Writing from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been a freelance writer for several organizations including the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation, Pitt Magazine, and The Heinz Endowments. When she’s not producing or studying media she’s binging it, watching YouTube videos or any interesting series she can find on streaming services.

Read more about or contact Christiana Dillard

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