This is a more than a month old, but still an interesting point about Field of Dreams:
While Shoeless Joe speaks of his after-life associations with the likes of Ty Cobb and Gil Hodges, he has no black friends. It seems fitting that a fantasy of this type would have leaped on the opportunity to bring Negro League stars Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and “Cool Papa” Bell together with their Major League counterparts.
This comes via Gamingboy at the BBTF Negro League newsblog, who adds: “In the commentary on the FoD DVD, the director said basically that ‘If I could go back and change one thing in the movie, I’d put in Negro League players’.”
One commenter at BBTF says this:
Maybe not; but how about Kansas City Monarchs / Indianapolis Clowns box scores in Council Bluffs papers? It took me about 30 seconds to find this story (and box score) in the Council Bluffs Nonpareil (July 24, 1946):
I don’t remember how old Ray Kinsella is supposed to be in either the novel Shoeless Joe (1982) or the film (1989). But a kid raised in Iowa in, say, the forties or fifties could certainly have heard of, or maybe even seen, black professional teams. Negro League games were played in Iowa into the 1960s. Here’s an ad from the Mason City (Iowa) Globe-Gazette, July 9, 1962:
Black baseball had a long history in the state. J.L. Wilkinson’s All-Nations clubs played many, many games in Iowa in the 1910s and 20s, as did Robert Gilkerson’s Union Giants. In 1917 Gilkerson ran a black team based in northern Iowa called the Lost Island Giants, which sounds like it walked out of a Kinsella short story.
W. P. Kinsella himself is Canadian and grew up in Alberta, by the way. But his father, John Kinsella, a semi-pro ballplayer, could well have played against barnstorming black teams, which frequently ranged into Canada from the 1910s through the 1950s.