Fact Check-Clip shows Biden telling Pope Francis story about baseball player Satchel Paige

After U.S. President Joe Biden met with Pope Francis on Oct. 29, social media users pointed to a short clip of their exchange and claimed Biden referred to the Pope as a “famous African-American baseball player.” The posts, however, are missing context: Biden was telling Francis the story of Satchel Paige.

Biden held an unusually long meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican as they exchanged smiles, laughs and gifts ( here ).

“Joe Biden after 75 mins of meeting with Pope ‘You're the famous African-American base ball player in America’,” reads a tweet with the 9-seconds clip that has garnered over 3,900 retweets as of the writing of this article ( here ).

The claim has also been shared on Facebook ( here , here ) and YouTube ( here ).

Most iterations feature the last seconds of a video posted by Catholic television network ETWN (see watermark on right top corner) viewable here timestamp 00:50) in which Biden is seen approaching the Pope and saying “famous African-American baseball player in America.”

Although the first word in Biden sentence is not entirely audible, further video of the scene shows he was telling the story of Satchel Paige, a Black pitcher who joined the Major Leagues in his 40s, in a nod to his and Francis’s ages (78 and 84 respectively), as reported by The New York Times ( here ) and CNN ( here ).

The longer exchange can be seen in a CNN report around timestamp 5:37 ( ).

Biden then says (alongside an Italian interpreter): “Usually, pitchers lose their arms when they’re 35. He pitched a win on his 47th birthday. The press walked into the locker room and said — his name was Satchel Paige — they came in and said, ‘Satch, no one’s ever pitched a win at age 47. How do you feel about pitching a win on your birthday?’ He looked at them and said, ‘Boys, that’s not how I look at age. I look at it this way: How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?’”

“You’re sixty-five and I’m sixty!” Biden says to Francis, and they both laugh.

The White House did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.

Further Reuters reporting about the meeting can be found here.


Missing context. The clip highlighted on social media posts show Biden telling Pope Francis the story of baseball player Satchel Paige.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.