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You Learn Something New Every Day

by Tom King

I have read a lot of baseball books. I thought I knew the history of the game pretty well. Well, imagine my surprise when I came upon a story yesterday that I had never heard of before ...and will change the way I look at baseball history forever.

I was channel surfing during yesterday's thunderstorms and stopped on BBC America's news broadcast. They do a much better job on international news than anybody else. To finish the broadcast they did a feature story on a new book called "Colorblind". Author Tom Dunkel has unearthed a story about a semi pro baseball team in Bismarck North Dakota in the mid 1930's. There were hundreds of teams like this all over the country...but what made this team special was that it was half white and half black. Yep, more than a decade before Jackie Robinson broke the major league color barrier, owner and local car dealer Ned Churchill had an integrated team, which included stars like Satchel Paige and Ted Radcliffe, playing against white teams in the wilds of the upper midwest.

How has this story never been told before? I havent read the book yet but a review says it also delves into the history of players, towns and baseball itself from a time when baseball was THE game in the United States...and before this a segregated game. 

The story of Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey is an important one...maybe the most important baseball story of the last 100 years...but to think that during a drought and Depression, in Jim Crow America, an integrated team could not only exist but flourish is a story worth telling...and it took a report on BBC America for me to hear about it.