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Color Blind: The Forgotten Team That Broke Baseball's Color Line

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  127 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
COLOR BLIND is a prelude to Jackie Robinson’s Major League debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Semipro baseball was highly competitive in the 1930s, so competitive that even out on the Great Plains a lot of money got bet on games between rival towns. Car dealer Neil Churchill managed Bismarck, North Dakota's team. He began muscling up by luring players from the Negro ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published April 2nd 2013 by Atlantic Monthly Press
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Sep 20, 2013 Brad rated it it was ok
My apologies to the author , but I felt this was 200 pages of exposition (I kept wondering when a story would evolve out of the factoid collage), 40 pages of story about Wichita's National Semi-Pro Baseball Tournament (good story, but I guess there wasn't enough to expand into a book?) and 60 pages of whatever-became-of-him epilogue. Though the subject and time period are well researched, the way it's put together is often difficult to follow.

I'd forgive the meandering writing if there were some
Apr 05, 2015 Aaron rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports
To me, reading this book was akin to watching a master artist at work on a painting. First he starts with something unrecognizable (North Dakota) and slowly adds a bits of the familiar (baseball, pre-civil rights era black/white relations) until a clear picture is formed. What the reader is left with is a better understanding of all the parts and an appreciation for the journey that got us there.

Dunkel writes beautiful prose. I love his careful introduction of FDR’s statement about the empty bar
Sep 19, 2013 Dave rated it it was amazing
I never knew anything about Bismark, North Dakota's baseball team during the depression, and how they won "The National" with an integrated baseball team that featured Leroy Satchel Paige. Well written, interesting, and informative, this is a book that I am quite glad I loaded on my iPad's Kindle app. If you like baseball, history, or just well written books, be sure to add this one to your list of must reads.
Barbara Dreyfuss
Apr 25, 2013 Barbara Dreyfuss rated it it was amazing
This book is a terrific read, even for people like me who are not necessarily baseball aficionados. It paints a really interesting picture of life durng the Great Depression and race relations and combines that storyline with the excitement of baseball competition. Dunkel's metaphors are an added plus to this well-written book.
Pamela Booth
Sep 07, 2014 Pamela Booth rated it it was amazing
Even though I am not a baseball fan, because this book was so well written, it captured my interest as soon as I cracked it open. It speaks to American culture weaving facts and story together.
May 14, 2013 Lynn rated it liked it
An interesting exploration about a forgotten part of sports history. I especially enjoyed the Satchel Paige stories.
Mar 16, 2015 Mark rated it really liked it
Very good read with an in-depth view into semi-pro and the Negro League baseball in the 1930's. A real eye opener into that era.
Sep 12, 2013 Heather rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013-reads
Absolutely fascinating.
Aug 25, 2013 Rick rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, sports
In the middle of The Great Depression in the northern prairie state of North Dakota two semi-pro baseball teams, Bismarck and Jamestown, hired black ballplayers to play on their otherwise white teams. Several were hired away from renowned Negro League teams like the Pittsburgh Crawfords and the Kansas City Monarchs. So for four short years, from 1933 to 1936, several decades after baseball embraced segregation and a dozen years before Major League baseball, thanks to Branch Rickey and the ...more
Todd Stockslager
Jun 02, 2015 Todd Stockslager rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports
Review title: Baseball story that still surprises
No sport is more thoroughly over documented, romanticized and historically studied than baseball, which makes Tom Dunkel's story even more remarkable. Only the hardest core of baseball fans might have heard of the Bismarck, North Dakota semi-pro baseball team that fielded an integrated team of white and black players more than a decade before Jackie Robinson in the midst of the Depression in the middle of nowhere and won a national semipro champio
Bob Grenier
Jul 22, 2016 Bob Grenier rated it it was amazing
I am rating it as 5-star book, even though it took me 18 months to finish, because it is so very well researched. About half of the book is devoted to Dunkel's acknowledgements and research notes. As a former academic, I am very impressed with his research. It is almost worthy of a doctoral dissertation.

This is a story about baseball in the hinterlands mainly during the depression years. Although a late family friend played small town baseball in Illinois during those years, I had no idea about
Brett Thomasson
Apr 25, 2016 Brett Thomasson rated it really liked it
Starting in the 1880s, major league professional baseball operated with an "understanding" that its teams would have no African-American players, a situation that lasted until Jackie Robinson took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. African-American players were mostly confined to the "Negro Leagues," teams with their own stories, superstars and legends. Although the different groups of athletes would often do battle with one another in off-season barnstorming tours and all-star squads, ...more
Joshua D.
Jun 11, 2014 Joshua D. rated it it was ok
"COLOR BLIND is a prelude to Jackie Robinson’s Major League debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Semipro baseball was highly competitive in the 1930s, so competitive that even out on the Great Plains a lot of money got bet on games between rival towns. Car dealer Neil Churchill managed Bismarck, North Dakota's team. He began muscling up by luring players from the Negro Leagues, the biggest prize being the great-but-perpetually-unpredictable Satchel Paige, who shocked the baseball ...more
P.e. lolo
Jun 24, 2013 P.e. lolo rated it it was amazing
This is a good old fashion baseball story from the mid west. North Dikota, in the town of Bismark. This story takes place many years before Jackie Robinson, broke into baseball. But a man a car sales man put together a semi-pro team that broke the color line years before. He brought together the best players he could find it just happened that some of the players were from the Black baseball teams, who either did not play or did not get payed, for one reason or another. Then he brought in maybe ...more
Aug 11, 2015 Jessica rated it really liked it
Solid baseball book about the first integrated team to win a national title. Over a decade before Jackie Robinson's major league debut, an auto salesman financed a semi-pro baseball team in North Dakota and showed that an integrated baseball team can be both successful on the field and accepted in society. Although the author does a good job explaining various aspects of race relations, the Great Depression, and semi-pro baseball, it helps if you have some understanding of pre-integrated major ...more
Bill Heavey
Nov 19, 2013 Bill Heavey rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating book and a great read. Dunkel is a sure-footed journalist who takes you into territory you thought you knew about but didn't.

The greatest integrated baseball team was formed long before Jackie Robinson. It was during the Depression in - of all places - Bismarck, North Dakota.

Dunkel has an eye for the telling details that bring to life men you've only heard of, like Hilton Smith, Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe, and the great Satchel Paige. These guys formed the core one of th
Jan 16, 2014 Brad rated it liked it
Recommends it for: baseball fans
Shelves: hard-cover, baseball
A decent book about a team that broke baseball's colour barrier in the 1930's, which took place almost two decades before Jackie Robinson made history when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.
It doesn't solely focus on baseball though, it touches upon segregation and racial racial relations that were going on at that time in American history.

Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige is one of the more intriguing story lines as the book moves along, as he was one of the cornerstones of Bismark's grea
Henderson County Public Library
Years before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League baseball, there was an integrated semi-pro team from Bismark that took a national championship. Baseball took over the nation after the civil war and by the Great Depression there were countless leagues in which a man could make a living playing baseball. Neil Churchill, a Bismark salesman, wanted to capitalize on the new national pastime and organized a team of the most talented players he could find, regardless of race. ...more
Jul 16, 2013 Erin rated it really liked it
I learned a lot reading this book and really enjoyed it. Reading about early baseball history - what the minor leagues were like, how important the teams were to their hometowns - all great stuff. I had no idea. And the idea that a team in North Dakota could break the color lines at a time when no major league team could. I knew little or nothing about Satchel Paige - it was very interesting to learn about his career. Enjoyable book - for anyone interested in baseball, the Depression era, and ...more
Apr 13, 2013 DT rated it it was ok
This is a story about one of the first integrated baseball teams in professional sports - a semi-pro team funded by an auto dealer in Bismarck, North Dakota, at the height of the Great Depression. You can tell that this book was a labor of love for the author. He clearly spent years in the basements of North Dakota newspaper archives and libraries to unearth this story. And it's a good one. But it probably would have read better as a longform journalism piece instead of a book. 2.5 stars is ...more
Oct 01, 2015 Mark rated it it was amazing
Very good baseball read. Particularly if you want to learn more about the era of city teams -- line-ups of guys from the town that would play touring teams or play the next town over. Notable because these were viable teams as Dunkel describes the home players but also owners' willingness to invest in outside players.

In this case, it was Neil Churchill's basic open mindedness ... or yen for winning that pushed him toward integration. Not just integration, but five or six Negro Leaguers on the te
Jul 08, 2013 Anthony rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports
This book is a great read for those that love baseball. Color Blind is about a baseball team that ignore race and put the best baseball players on the team no matter what their race was. This happened before Jackie Robinson became the first black player in the major leagues. This book covers alot of the players who played in the negro leagues. I highly recommend this book to all baseball enthusiasts.
Jul 03, 2013 Patrick rated it liked it
Shelves: sports
a tad misleading, not especially a book about race; though the book tells the story about a mixed-race baseball team of the mid-1930s, it is more accurately a story about: 1) the city of bismarck ND circa 1930; 2) semipro baseball in this era; 3) a man named neil churchill who managed the team; and 4) satchel paige and the negro leagues ... it has its moments
Aug 18, 2016 Kathy rated it it was amazing
Since I most like to read about history and this was a historical non-fiction about baseball and Bismarck, North Dakota, I was captivated by every page. I have lived in Bismarck or close to Bismarck for nearly my entire life, so now understand much about the early days of the community. Fascinating storytelling, yet non-fiction. Try it!
Sep 06, 2013 Valerie rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
Enjoyed this history of the beginnings of interracial baseball. Was inspired to learn more about this part of baseball's history after watching 42. It's so unfortunate that we judged people differently because of the color of their skin. My hat is off to those who were so courageous in their actions during these early years.
Sue Kelso
Aug 16, 2013 Sue Kelso rated it really liked it
This was a slow read which non-fiction often is for me as I pay closer attention to the details. You could tell this book was a labor of love for the author. Highly recommended for history and/or baseball fans.
Jon Smith
Oct 10, 2015 Jon Smith rated it really liked it
An excellent read of a time when $400 a month was a superb salary, and baseball offered it to several fine ballplayers. Dunkel brings us quite a ways from that BINGO LONG nonsense, and uses two main characters to tell a true baseball story, but also a story from the 1930s.
Apr 28, 2013 Karen rated it really liked it
I totally enjoyed this book and am gratified that there were some human beings who judged people without regard to skin color. I honestly, no matter how old I get, cannot comprehend the indignities that people of color have endured for FAR TOO LONG.
Jun 25, 2015 Sarah rated it really liked it
I really liked reading this book. All the details and the characters were fantastic. Quincy Troupe is a new name for me, and he seemed like a fantastic man and ball player. I thought Dunkel got a little too caught up in individual games sometimes, but that was the only downside.
Aug 24, 2016 Lauren rated it really liked it
This book was amazing except for a couple of sarcastic comments about women near the beginning. Around when it starts to talk about the 1935 tournament, the book really takes off. This really should be made into a movie.
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