by Tom Dunkel
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 establishment by heading west to where the buffalo roam. Paige pitched for Bismarck at the tail end of 1933 and all of 1935. The focal point of the book is that 1935 season, when events take an odd turn toward Kansas.
COLOR BLIND is written with an eye beyond baseball. The narrative touches upon moonshine, gambling, Depression hard times, Dakota pioneer days and, of course, racial discrimination. Sitting Bull, Franklin Roosevelt, and Carl Sandburg are among the famous faces who make cameo appearances