'Color Blind' by Tom Dunkel
Published on Friday, May 10, 2013 - 4:39pm
Everyone is familiar with the story of Jackie Robinson’s heroic breaking of the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947. Tom Dunkel’s Color Blind: The Forgotten Team that Broke Baseball’s Color Line tells the story of semi-pro baseball’s great, integrated, Bismarck team of 1935.
Dunkel provides the reader with a brief history of how professional (the Major, Minor, as well as Negro leagues) and semi-professional baseball evolved in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Without this context, it would be impossible to fully appreciate the accomplishments of a semi-professional team like the one from Bismarck.
The author describes the whirlwind 1934 and 1935 seasons for the Bismarck team, as they rose to prominence and eventually won the National Baseball Conference’s tournament, simply known as “The National.” The book also includes an in-depth look at one of baseball’s most enigmatic and talented players, Satchel Paige.
Perhaps this team remained virtually unknown due to the lack of mainstream newspaper coverage, or because of the fact that the team’s manager and founder, Neil Churchill, was not seeking to make history with his integrated club; rather, he simply wanted to field the best team he could, regardless of his players’ races.
If you’re looking to expand your knowledge of baseball history, or if the film 42 made you want to learn more about race and baseball, check out Color Blind at your local DC Library today.