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The Bismarck Churchills won the very first NBC World Series in 1935. The integrated team from North Dakota was managed by Neil Churchill, who teamed up with Abe Saperstein, the owner of the Harlem Globetrotters and personal friend of Churchill, to attract Negro League legend Satchel Paige along with three other Negro League players to his team in 1933. The team went on that year to claim the state championship.

Though Paige did not return to the team in 1934, he did join the Churchills again in 1935, at which point the team was fully integrated. The 1935 roster included other big name Negro League players like Quincy Trouppe, who like Paige would eventually go on to play in the MLB. After an outstanding season, featuring 321 strikeouts by Paige, the Churchills were invited to the National Semi-Professional Baseball Tournament by Hap Dumont himself, who promised Paige a $1,000 paycheck for bringing his team to Wichita.

Large crowds filled the stands at Lawrence Dumont to watch Paige and the Churchills play in the inaugural tournament. The Churchills went undefeated in the tournament, and Paige threw 60 strike outs and won four of the team’s seven games. Though Paige did not return to the team in 1936, the Churchills went on to win its first five games in the tournament, eventually losing to the Halliburton Cementers in game six.

Paige who went on to eventually play in the MLB years later, is widely known as one of the greatest pitchers of all time. He would play in the NBC World Series three more times over his career.

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