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In the summer of 1919 three men (two white, one black) decide that the Chicago White Sox will be the first major league team in the twentieth century to sign a black player to a major league contract.

Set before the broad shoulders of Chicago, Shadow Ball imagines a story involving Rube Foster, African American owner of the Chicago-American Giants; Charles Comiskey, the owner of the White Sox; and Sam Weiss, their silent go-between. Their plans are complicated by the eruption of the August 1919 race riot in Chicago, as seen and heard by Kid Douglas, a Mississippi blues singer newly arrived from the Delta. Blues, baseball, race relations, love, hope and despair ring loud in this tale.