10.15.2009

Satch Sanders: Basketball Player & Business Man

Part 8

It is the work ethic of the kid from the ghetto who learned that to get anywhere, you have to work for it. If, he says, you're not making enough money to get the things that you want in life, then the only thing to do is to work even harder.In his thirteen years with the Celtics - from 1960 until 1973 - he never signed anything other than a one-year contract.

"Thirteen one-year contracts," he says today. "I never knew if I was going to come back. It made me work that much harder because I could never get to be complacent." And because he played ball long before the days when superstars began signing million-dollar contracts, he took summer jobs in the off-season, even spent one summer working at E. J. Korvette's, the New York department store chain, to stay afloat financially.

As he become more successful, his investments became more sophisticated - playing the stock market with Buddy LeRoux, the former Celtics trainer who now owns the Red Sox, going after federal housing grants to rehabilitate deteriorated housing in Roxbury, and so on. But he had long wanted to own a restaurant, and he acquired the Stanhope Street site after plans to locate on State Street and, later, on Newbury Street fell through.

Because he considers himself a businessman - with a marketing degree from NYU - he is initially reluctant these days to discuss the interracial aspects of his restaurant.
"The objective, of course, is to get into business and do well," he explains. "To be healthy and continue on in business. . . . Sometimes when you put business and sociology together it can be kind of difficult. It can be a tough marriage, if only because you're trying to go in two directions when you should be concentrating all your efforts on one, keeping the business healthy."

But later, he relents, admitting that the idea of running a place where blacks and whites could socialize together was considered from the start, was discussed with his partners, was part of a grander plan for the restaurant with the Celtic green carpet on the floor. "My personal opinion is that the city needs it," Sanders says. "Needs it very badly. People from out of town who have heard about this city are surprised to find that a place like Satch's exists in a place like Boston. No matter how much you rebuild a city physically, if some of these social things aren't addressed, you know that the image is going to stay the same no matter how glorious the city may look.

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