Bismarck Churchills

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Bismarck, North Dakota
League affiliation(s)
  • Independent

The Bismarck team was an integrated semi-professional baseball team based in Bismarck, North Dakota in the 1930s. Led by Satchel Paige, Vernon "Moose" Johnson, and Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe, the club won the 1935 National Baseball Conference semi-pro baseball tournament in Wichita, Kansas.

Bismarck played independently of any league because its mixed race roster was a problem in a period of segregation, and because there were no formal leagues at the semi-professional level in North Dakota in the 1930s. The team was owned by Neil Churchill, a local car dealer who owned the city's Chrysler dealership, and regularly played against Valley City, Jamestown, and other teams across North Dakota and Manitoba.

Although the club is erroneously recalled as the "Churchills" today, the team was not formally named in the 1930s, as North Dakota newspapers such as the Bismarck Tribune simply referred to the club as the "Bismarcks" in 1935. The team was also referred to as the "Giants" (written on old team photo)

Notable players


  • McNary, Kyle P. 'North Dakota Whips Big Leagues', Pitch Black Baseball (2001) Retrieved July 25, 2005.
  • Roper, Scott C. 1993. "Another Chink in Jim Crow? Race and Baseball on the Northern Plains, 1900-1935." NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Social Policy Perspectives 2 (1) 75-89; reprinted in Bill Kirwin, editor, Out of the Shadows: African American Baseball from the Cuban Giants to Jackie Robinson (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005) 81-93.
  • Roper, Scott C. 1994. "A Summer in North Dakota: Uncovering Satchel Paige's 1935 Season." Baseball Research Journal 23, 51-54.
  • Roper, Stephanie Abbot. 1993. "African Americans in North Dakota, 1800-1940." Master's Thesis, Department of History, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND.
  • Various 'Hall of Merit discussion:Ted Radcliffe', Baseball Think Factory (2005) Retrieved July 25, 2005.
  • Dunkel, Tom 2013. "Color Blind: The Forgotten Team That Broke Baseball's Color Line" (Atlantic Monthly Press)