Talk:John Donaldson (pitcher)

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moved to talk RJFJR (talk) 14:58, 1 July 2010 (UTC)

  • Bancroft Henderson, Edwin (1939). The Negro in Sports. Washington, DC: Washington: Associated Publishers Inc.

Some of the players in professional circles who will go down in history as all-time immortals in baseball’s hall of fame are the following: Pitchers: Joseph Williams, Richard Redding, David Brown, Rube Foster, William Foster and Satchel Paige. Others deserving honorable mention are: Pitchers: Andrew “Stringbean” Williams, Frank Wickware, “Bullet” Rogan, John Donaldson.

  • Young, A.S. “Doc” (1953). Great Negro Baseball Stars. New York, New York: A.S. Barnes.

…the Negro leagues included many “major leaguers.” Tops among them (with major club affiliations): Pitcher John Donaldson, Chicago Giants, Kansas City Monarchs.

  • Young, A.S. “Doc” (1953). Great Negro Baseball Stars. New York, New York: A.S. Barnes.

Donaldson, now a successful Chicago White Sox scout, was the finest southpaw in Negro baseball, possessing speed, a good change-up, a flossy assortment of curves, good control, plus fielding and hitting talents far superior to those of other top-flight hurlers. Perhaps his greatest feat was performed in 1935, when he allowed the Rockford (Illinois) Stars but one hit (a triple by the first batter), struck out twenty-three, and won, 3 to 0.

  • Peterson, Robert (1970). Only the ball was white. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

John Donaldson A lefthander, John Donaldson was noted for his grace on the mound and a sharp-breaking curve ball that was faster than most pitchers’ fastballs. He reached his peak just before World War I with the All Nations Club, which was made up of men of several races, once pitching three successive no-hitters for them. A native of Glasgow, Missouri, the tall, lean Donaldson started his professional career in 1912 with the Tennessee Rats, a ball club and entertainment troupe that barnstormed through the Midwest. In his years on top clubs stretching into the 1930s, Donaldson played for the Los Angeles White Sox, Kansas City Monarchs, Chicago Giants, Indianapolis ABC’s, Brooklyn Royal Giants, Detroit Stars, and white semipro clubs in the Midwest and Canada. A strong and consistent hitter, he was used mostly as an outfielder during his later years with the Monarchs. J.L. Wilkinson, who owned both the All Nations and the Monarchs, called Donaldson the most amazing pitcher he had ever seen. At his best, Donaldson had near-perfect control and averaged 20 strikeouts a game. In 1917 the Chicago Defender reported that Donaldson was offered $10,000 by a New York State League manager to go to Cuba, change his name, and return as a Cuban to pitch for his club. Donaldson declined the offer. At about the same time, John McGraw said he would gladly have paid $50,000 for Donaldson’s contract if he had been white. After the color bar fell, Donaldson became a scout for the Chicago White Sox. His home is in Chicago.

  • Rust, Art (1992). Get That Nigger Off The Field. Edison, New York: Golden-Lee Book Distributors.

PITCHER: JOHN DONALDSON CHICAGO GIANTS One of the finest southpaws in Negro baseball; possessing speed, a good changeup, an assortment of curves, and good control. An excellent fielder and batter too.

  • Bak, Richard (1994). Turkey Stearnes and the Detroit Stars: the negro leagues in Detroit, 1919-1933. Detroit, Michigan: Wayne State University Press.

[Jose] Mendez was complemented by southpaw John Donaldson, a tall, slender Missouri native who had previously starred on the All-Nations club with Mendez. Utilizing a whiplash curve, he was a strikeout artist who had once pitched three straight no-hitters. Donaldson’s hitting ability made him a regular outfielder on days when he wasn’t pitching.

  • Riley, James A. (1994). The biographical Encyclopedia of the negro baseball leagues. New York, New York: Carroll & Graf Publishing.

Donaldson, John Wesley

Career: 1913-34 Positions: p, of

Teams: Tennessee Rats (’12), All Nations (’13-’17), Gilkerson’s Union Giants (’17), Chicago Giants, military service (’17), Indianapolis ABC’s (’18), Brooklyn Royal Giants (’18), Lincoln Giants (’18), Detroit Stars (’19), Kansas City Monarchs (’20-24, ’31, ’34), independent semipro teams (’24-’30), John Donaldson All-Stars (‘31-’32)

Bats: Left Throws: Left

Height: 6’0” Weight: 185

Born: Feb. 20, 1892, Glasgow, Mo.

Died: Apr. 14, 1970, Chicago, Ill.

John Donaldson was a poised left-hander with pinpoint control, and his money pitch was a hard, sharp-breaking curve. He won his greatest fame in ’10s as a star for J.L. Wilkinson’s multiracial All Nations ballclub, based in Des Moines, Iowa, and with whom he averaged almost 20 strikeouts per game. He once pitched three consecutive no-hitters, in 1913. However, his prime seasons often were spent barnstorming across the Midwest, playing against white semipro ballclubs of dubious quality, resulting in both inflated statistics and fragmentary records. Against one of those teams, at Marchall [SIC], Minnesota, in 1913, he pitched a 12-inning one hitter while fanning 27 batters, In 1915 he whiffed 35 batters in an 18-inning 1-0 loss to Sioux Falls. His beautiful drop and wide assortment of curves, combined with a good fastball and change-up, made him one of the best left-handers in the history of black baseball. At times he was almost unhittable, and during one stretch through mid-June 1915 he had 92 strikeouts in 56 innings pitched, and extended that to 252 strikeouts in 15 games. The next year he was credited with 240 strikeouts over a 12-game period. In 1916 Donaldson also pitched the All Nations team to series victories over the two top black teams, Rube Foster’s Chicago American Giants and C.I. Taylor’s Indianapolis ABC’s. At that time he was the best pitcher in black baseball. After induction into military service and a tour of duty in France with the 365the Infantry during World War I, Donaldson did go to New York in 1918, but not to pitch for a team in a white league. After beginning the season in the Midwest with Indianapolis ABC’s, he traveled East to pitch with two of the top black eastern teams, the New York Lincoln Giants and the Brooklyn Royal Giants. In the latter part of 1918 he pitched against John McGraw’s new York Giants, losing a hard-fought 1-0 encounter. When the Negro National League was organized in 1920, the star left-hander returned to the West, reuniting with J.L. Wilkinson, who called Donaldson the most amazing pitcher he had ever seen. While playing for Wilkinson’s Kansas City Monarchs during the inaugural season, he is credited with a 4-1 league ledger despite a arm that had gone dead. Donaldson’s career spanned parts of four decades. After completing the schoolwork offered at Avon Grammar School in his hometown of Glasgow, Missouri, he attended George Smith College in Sedalia, Missouri, for a year before embarking on his professional career in 1912 with a barnstorming combination of baseball and showbiz talent called the Tennessee Rats. He was signed by Wilkinson for his All Nations team after the team’s female first baseman was released when she demanded more money. He later pitched for the Indianapolis ABC’s, Chicago Giants, Brooklyn Royal Giants, Detroit Stars, Los Angeles White Sox, and Kansas City Monarchs. Although his last appearance with a top ballclub was in 1934, his final hurrah was in 1945, when he played with Monarchs’ traveling ballclub under manager Newt Joseph. He was the first great black left-hander and continues to be categorized with Willie Foster, Nip Winters, and Slim Jones as one of the best left-handers in the history of black baseball. John Henry Lloyd regarded him as the toughest pitcher he had ever faced, and New York Giants’ manager John McGraw assessed Donaldson’s value at $50,000 had he been white. In 1917, a New York State League manager reportedly offered him $10,000 to pass as a Cuban and pitch for his team. The tall, lean, graceful athlete abstained from strong drink and other dissipation habits, and besides being and outstanding pitcher, he possessed good all-around playing skills. Donaldson was a good bunter and could hit with a measure of authority, was a fast base runner, and fielded smoothly, often playing at shortstop or in the outfield. Many years, he played in winter leagues in Cuba, Florida, or California. During the winter of 1916-1917 he was the star pitcher for the Los Angeles White Sox in the California winter league, and also played in the outfield, sometimes batting cleanup in the batting order. His batting eye didn’t wane and after experiencing arm trouble later in his career, he continued as an everyday player, holding down the center-field spot for the Kansas City Monarchs when they entered the Negro National League in 1920. With the Monarchs he often batted in the leadoff spot to utilize his exceptional speed from the batter’s box to first base. Partial statistics for 1921 show a .320 batting average while batting in the third slot in the order, but the next season he was dropped to the lower half of the batting order. After leaving the Monarchs in 1923, he pitched with the Bertha, Minnesota, Fisherman, a white team, recording an 18-3 mark with 300 strikeouts in 1924. The next season he was 28-4 with a team in Moose Jaw, Canada, and he signed with the Lismore, Minnesota, ball club in 1926 before returning to Bertha, where he won 22 games and hit .440 in 1927. He pitched with St. Cloud, Minnesota, in 1930 and later formed his own touring baseball team, the John Donaldson All-Stars, and continued playing on into the decade, returning to the Monarchs in 1931. After his active baseball career ended, Donaldson worked as a shipping clerk in the post office and, when the color ban was lifted, scouted for the Chicago White Sox.

  • Ribowsky, Mark (1995). A complete history of the Negro leagues, 1884 to 1955. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Publishing Group.

…it was probably John Donaldson, the great Monarch pitcher of the 1910’s and 1920’s who cleared the way for later Negro leaguers to play up North. Operating like Satchel Paige – that is, playing with any teams in the area that offered up cash – Donaldson gained such a cachet locally that the original House of David team was formed around him in Sioux City.

  • O'Neil, John "Buck" with Steve Wulf and David Conrads (1996). I was right on time. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster.

…John Donaldson also influenced Satchel. He was the first guy to go barnstorming his way up and down the Dakotas, pitching for whatever team would pay him. He showed Satchel the way, and the fact is, there are many people who saw them both who say John Donaldson was just as good as Satchel. He was a fantastic left-hander who once pitched three no-hitters in a row, and he was throwing a slider – a hard curve, as hard as a fastball – before anyone knew you could throw a hard curve. They say John McGraw said he’d give fifty thousand dollars for Donaldson if he’d been white. If he’d been white! We heard that a lot about a lot of our players through the years.

  • Robinson, Frazier (1999). Catching dreams: my life in the Negro baseball leagues. Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press.

John Donaldson goes way back with the Monarchs to when they first got together. They said that he had been a great pitcher in his prime, and he’d won as many games as anybody. A lot of people think he should be in the Hall of Fame, but he was older than Vaseline when I caught him with the All-Stars. He would have been in his late forties, and he didn’t have too much left, but he knew all the tricks. He was a left-hander whose best pitch was a big curveball. And he had one of the best pick-off moves I’ve ever seen. One of his favorite tricks was to walk a good hitter just to pick him off first base. He could pick you off first base just as easy as 1-2-3. He had that good of a move to first base. Nowadays, umpires would call him for a balk. What he did was to drop his right leg like he was going home, and when the runner moved, he’d whip the ball to first. That’s a balk these days, but I never once saw him get called for it. He especially liked pulling this on the House of David boys. He was slick enough to keep you in a ballgame. He’d throw that old junk, and you couldn’t hit it but too far. He couldn’t throw that hard no more, but he had good enough control to spot pitch you and make you hit the ball like he wanted you to hit it. He’d break your stride and keep you off balance. He could trick you. I guess the booker let him stay with the team because of his past reputation. I don’t know whatever became of him after he left the club.

  • McNeil, William F. (2001). Cool papas and double duties : the all-time greats of the Negro Leagues. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company.

John Donaldson was one of the top southpaw pitchers of the early twentieth century. He and Rube Foster could match pitches with the major league’s best left handers, including Rube Waddell and Eddie Plank. The 6’, 185-pounder, was a power pitcher who relied on a sharp-braking curve ball to send discouraged batters back to the dugout with their bats on their shoulders. He was, according to Jim Riley, “a poised left hander with pinpoint control.” Like many of the black pitchers of the first half of the twentieth century, he had four or five dependable pitches, including the aforementioned curve, a drop, a good fastball, and a deadly change-up. Donaldson , who was born in Glasgow, Missouri, on February 20, 1892, began his professional career with J.L. Wilkinson’s All-Nations team in 1913. The team, which included both whites and blacks as well as a Chinese player, a Hawaiian, and a girl, toured the country, playing against all types of opposition: professional, semi-pro, and amateur. Obviously much too talented for the opposition, Donaldson hardly ever lost a game and averaged 20 strikeouts for every nine innings. He once tossed three straight no-hitters. When the Negro National League was formed in 1920, Donaldson was signed by the Kansas City Monarchs. He pitched for the Monarchs for several years between 1920 and 1934, choosing to tour with independent teams from 1924 to 1930. Donaldson played baseball 12 months a year for more than two decades. During the winter, he often played ball in the Florida Hotel League. Some years he traveled to Cuba and other years he played in the California Winter League. In 1916-17 he starred for the Los Angeles White Sox in California. In addition to his pitching skills, Donaldson was also a good hitter and a strong defensive player. He often played shortstop or the outfield when not pitching. Riley noted that he hit a solid .320 for the Monarchs in 1921. He often batted in the third slot in the batting order, but often hit leadoff to take advantage of his speed. Unfortunately for Donaldson, his statistics are scant. Most of his career was spent outside the organized Negro leagues, so box scores are difficult to locate. His records in Cuba are still missing, and the statistics from the Florida Hotel League and the California Winter League have yet to be compiled. However, baseball expert John McGraw considered John Donaldson to be one to the finest pitchers of his generation. He was tall, graceful, and cool under fire. He didn’t drink, or smoke or carouse. He was a winner.

  • Cottrell, Robert C (2002). Blackball, the Black Sox, and the Babe: Baseball's Crucial 1920 Season. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company.

Racial barriers alone kept a host of black baseball players, then in their prime, out of the big leagues. Among those who were considered to be the equal of the very best major leaguers included pitchers John Donaldson, Frank Wickware, Jose Mendez, Smokey Joe Williams, Dick “Cannonball” Redding, shortstop John Henry Lloyd, and catcher Bruce Petway. Donaldson had recently thrown 30 consecutive hitless innings and had struck out 25 batters in a 12 inning contest. John McGraw has reputedly indicated, “If Donaldson were a white man, or if the unwritten law of baseball didn’t bar negroes from the major leagues, I would give $50,000 for him – and think I was getting a bargain.

  • Thornley, Stew (2006). Baseball in Minnesota : the definitive history. St. Paul, Minnesota: Minnesota Historical Society Press.

John Donaldson The nature of barnstorming provides examples of high-profile players making brief appearances with teams. Barely two months after pitching against the Colored Gophers in July 1909, Walter Ball pitched for the Gophers when a barnstorming tour by the team brought them to the Chicago area in October. Ball remained primarily with Chicago teams over the next decade. During this time another outstanding pitcher, John Donaldson, was establishing connections with Minnesota as a member of the All-Nations team. J.L. Wilkinson of Des Moines, Iowa, was one of the founders of the All-Nations, which consisted of Native American, Latin American, and Asian American players as well as black and white Americans. Another member of the All-Nations pitching staff was Jose Mendez, a native of Mantanzas, Cuba, who had already established his reputation with a series of impressive performances against the Cincinnati Reds of the National League when the Reds toured Cuba in late 1908. The team was based in Des Moines and after being formed in 1912, played many games in Minnesota. The lefthanded Donaldson was regarded as one of the top black pitchers of the time, and he remained with the All-Nations for several years, but the team began breaking up as it lost players, including Donaldson, to the military after the United States entered the war in 1917. The All-Nations declined further in 1920, as Wilkinson shifted his attention to operating the Kansas City Monarchs of the newly formed Negro Nations League. Donaldson played for the Monarchs for four years and also appeared with the All-Nations club in 1923 when the team made appearances in Minnesota. Then, in 1924, Donaldson made an ever stronger tie with the state when he joined an integrated team in Bertha, a community in Todd County. Donaldson was the only nonlocal player on the Bertha team, according to researcher Chuck Bottemiller. An article that appeared in the September 21, 1924, Minneapolis Tribune said that Bertha won the “independent championship of central Minnesota” and that “the chief credit for the accomplishment is given to John Donaldson, the colored boy who pitched for the All-Nations for many years and who came to Bertha this spring. His coaching of the club, aside from his great work on the mound, has resulted in developing a formidable team out of inferior material.” The Tribune cited Donaldson’s won-lost record as a pitcher as 18-3 that year, a figure confirmed by Bottemiller’s research of the Berth Heralds from that season. Bottemiller found that Donaldson received approximately $1,400 for the season and that in 1925 most of the players on the team were salaried. Donaldson’s 1925 pitching record, which included his participation in an all-star tournament in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, was 28-4. At least one of the games Donaldson pitched for Bertha in 1925 was against a team from Scobey, Montana, that included Swede Risberg. Risberg, banned from organized baseball for his part in the throwing of the 1919 World Series, had played in Rochester, Minnesota, for two years before being lured to Scobey. On Sunday, August 30, 1925, Scobey and Bertha played at Welles Memorial Park in Breckenridge, Minnesota. Risberg played right field in the game and had five hits. Next to him in the outfield was center fielder Happy Felsch, who had also been part of the Black Sox scandal. In a high-scoring game Bertha beat Scobey, 12-10. According to the Gazette-Telegram of Bertha, Scobey’s only previous loss had come earlier in the season in Scobey, when they were defeated by Donaldson. Donaldson signed to pitch with a team in Lismore, Minnesota, in 1926, although Peter Gorton, in a chapter on Donaldson in Swinging for the Fences, noted that he also appeared for teams in Minneota and Madison that season. Donaldson pitched one game for a team in Alexandria as well, on August 26 against the bearded, barnstorming House of David team. House of David won that game, 2-1, but Donaldson had a chance to face them again a year later. He was back in Bertha in 1927 and was the starting pitcher against House of David on Thursday, August 25, in a game played in Little Falls, Minnesota. The game was part of a celebration to honor Little Falls resident Charles Lindbergh, who had become a national hero for his solo flight from New York to Paris a few months earlier. On August 23, Donaldson had pitched in Bemidji in a game against Gilkerson’s Union Giants and beat them 5-3. Because of the great crowd in Little Falls two days later, Donaldson started the game against House of David and pitched two scoreless innings. Bertha went on to win the game, 1-0, before 6,000 fans, as another black pitcher, Lefty Wilson, pitched the final seven innings. The 1928 season demonstrates the itinerant nature of players on independent teams along with the raids that teams performed on one another. Donaldson started the year with the Scobey, Montana, team, which had a game scheduled against a team from Melrose, Minnesota, on Sunday, May 20, 1928, at Breckenridge. The Tuesday prior to the game, however, the Melrose team announced that it had signed Donaldson for the season. With Donaldson pitching for them, rather than against them, Melrose beat Scobey, 7-3. Although Donaldson spent only one season in Melrose, his Minnesota connection remained strong in the coming years, as he pitched in St. Cloud and then organized a team in Fairmont. He was well remembered in central Minnesota when he died in 1970, and a lengthy story in the Wadena Pioneer Journal noted that his death created “a great amount of reminiscing in Bertha among the local residents who remember the large crowds and the feats of this great Negro player who could not receive his greatest acclaim due to his color.”

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