Leaguer of the Month
Born: February 20, 1892 in Glasgow, Missouri
Died: April 12, 1970 in Chicago.
Ht:6'-1", Wt: 180
Batted left and threw left.
Position: pitcher, outfield
Teams: Tennessee Rats, All Nations, Gilkerson's Union Giants,
Chicago Giants, Indianapolis ABCs, Brooklyn Royal Giants, New
York Lincoln Giants, Detroit Stars, Kansas City Monarchs, John
Donaldson All-Stars, Bertha (MN) Fisherman, Lismore (MN) Gophers,
Melrose (MN) Legion All-Stars, Saint Cloud (MN) Saints, Moose
At 6-3 and 180 pounds, John Donaldson had every pitch
known to man: a blazing fastball, a great change-up, and curves
coming from several angles. Donaldson is one of the top lefthanders
in Negro League history, in the same class as Willie Foster, Slim
Jones and Verdell Mathis.
Donaldson started playing in the Midwest with J.L. Wilkinsons
multi-racial All-Nations. Donaldson was the star pitcher on the
team, was well as a solid hitter. He was the teams main
attraction from 1912-1917.
Years later, Donaldson would be one of the top pitchers and top
centerfielders on the Kansas City Monarchs (much like teammate
Joe Rogan). In between, Donaldson thrilled thousands of fans in
on horse towns across the Midwest; Donaldson was the top pitcher
for such towns as St. Cloud, Bertha, Melrose and Lismore, Minnesota,
and Moose Jaw, Canada.
According to researcher Alan Muchlinski, Donaldson had many overpowering
performances. In 1912, Donaldson pitched in Sioux Falls and won
2-0 with 14 strikeouts, and also had a 13-inning, 23 strikeout
In 1913, Donaldson struck out 27 in a 12 inning game, and in 1914
Donaldson won a 13-inning game and allowed only 1 hitin
fact, he threw no-hit ball through the first 12 innings.
Towns of a few hundred packed in as many as 10,000 fans to see
Donaldson at parks all over the Midwest.
Donaldson, unlike many pitchers, was an excellent hitter and great
Donaldson was perhaps in his prime with the Bertha (Minnesota)
Fisherman and was probably the towns greatest attraction
for several years.
According to Muchlinski, Donaldson was paid $1421 for the 24
season, plus a roundtrip ticket to his home in Chicago ($57.28),
and use of a house for he and his wife. Donaldson remembered that
season fondly, as he was treated like a king.
Donaldson was the only pro player; the rest of the
team being made up of local talent.
Bertha played 27 games and Donaldson pitched in 25 of them. He
started 25 games, finished 23, and pitched 212 innings. His record:
No wonder Donaldson remembered Bertha fondly!
Donaldson had two 20-strikeout games, three 19-strikeout games,
and a no-hitter versus the Minnesota Braves.
After the Bertha season was over, Donaldson traveled to Kansas
City and put together a team to take on a Major League all-star
team. Donaldsons team included catcher Foreman, Newt Joseph
and Harold Vaughn. The Major League team was led by pitcher Roy
Lefty Meeker of the As, Joe Hauser and Al
Simmons. On Sunday, Oct. 19th. with the Negro Leaguers trailing
in the bottom of the ninth, a man singled, the next batter walked,
then Donaldson smashed a triple to tie the score. Foreman followed
with a hit to end the game 5-4.
eventually hooked up with J.L. Wilkinson again, this time with
the Kansas City Monarchs and played with them most of the next
After his playing career was over, Donaldson worked at a post
office in Chicago, and as a Major League scout with the Chicago
view a great site about Donaldson's years in Minnesota, click
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