Sunday, May 26, 2013

Knowing The Game.

     The vastness of the US fascinates, as does the historic reach of the game of baseball.

     I frequently turn to baseball books for some grounding, even as I continue to reluctantly act as "a thought leader in Boston baseball".

     Anyway, I picked up  "Color Blind".  Which (too) exhaustively describes an integrated semi-pro town team in Bismarck North Dakota in the mid-1930's. I can recommend it for a couple of reasons.

     One. It recalls a time, now long gone, of "town teams" and barnstorming. Eighty or ninety years ago, many many towns fielded a town team and fiercely played against their geographic compatriots. That is long gone. There is a town 50 or so miles from my house, in the middle of the mountains, with one of those old time baseball fields. I have been driving by it for decades, and have never seen a game, practice or any other baseball activity. But there it stands. I also visited the oldest continuing operating ball park in Bisbee, AZ a few year back. At least they have an A ball team there.

     Two. Satchel Paige  was a member, more or less, of the Bismark nine. Satchel Paige got royally fucked by baseball's color barrier, so I cannot get enough of stories, some true, about him.

     The book itself is a victim of its own conceit. It is hard to write about something that few people knew about at the time, and, oh by the way, they are long dead. Rehashing of secondary sources is a weakness of many baseball histories. This one suffers as well. Dunkel, to his credit, has a clever,breezy style, but there are limited ways of fleshing out a two inch box score. Day after day. After day. And then some more.

     It was a good diversion, and I learned a thing or two.

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