John Donaldson

Donaldson earns spot on Hall ballot

Left-hander pitched in three games for Minneota semi-pro team in 1923

After over 20 years of feverishly working to give John Donaldson his due, part Pete Gorton's dream has been fulfilled.
Donaldson, a rocket-armed left-hander who pitched in three semi-professional games for Minneota in 1923, was finally put on the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum ballot.
Gorton, a freelance writer living in Minneapolis, discovered Donaldson when he came across a 1924 photo of the Bertha town baseball team and was surprised to see a Black man among the players and began his search to learn more about him.
Gorton soon learned through newspapers in Minnesota about Donaldson's barnstorming exploits in which he and other ballplayers would travel around the county to play baseball. Donaldson is known to have played in over 750 cities across North America.
From 1924 to 1930, Donaldson played for teams in Arlington, Bertha, Lismore, Madison, Melrose, Minneota and St. Cloud in Minnesota. In all, he played in 131 Minnesota cities.
"It is of vital importance that these communities know a potential Hall of Fame player brought his message of equality to each and every town," said Gorton. "It's a great day for The Donaldson Network and we sincerely appreciate all who have contributed to this effort."
The more Gorton learned about him, the more interested he became. After years of building a network to help him compile Donaldson's pitching statistics, Gorton has unearthed a plethora of statistics, including 418 wins, 5,116 strikeouts, 14 no-hitters and two perfect games over 33 years.
Gorton scoured nearly 8,000 newspaper accounts of Donaldson's mound mastery and how some claimed he was a better pitcher than Satchel Paige, Gorton felt compelled to do whatever it took to get Donaldson on the Hall of Fame ballot, even though the pitcher had never played an inning in the major league or even in the Negro Leagues. Gorton knew it was a longshot to convince others that Donaldson deserves a place in the Hall of Fame.
Gorton and those working in his network, were elated to find out Donaldson was placed on the ballot last Friday.
"Together we will restore his legacy," Gorton said.
As Donaldson's strikeout totals continued to climb as more and more statistical information was discovered, more and more baseball afficionados took notice. Eventually, a baseball field was named after Donaldson in his hometown of Glasgow, MO. A statue of Donaldson has now been built and stands next to the field.
Donaldson was such a standout hurler that town officials would take out large ads in their local newspaper when he would be pitching on their diamond because they knew large crowds followed him and that would generate more revenue for local businesses.
Minneota already had a Donaldson playing on their semi pro team in 1923. James Donaldson, a pitcher/shortstop, was John Donaldson's younger brother. John pitched in two games for Minneota so he could play with his brother, then came back to pitch another game in honor of his brother after he died at age 23 following an illness.
The Early Baseball Era Committee for the Hall of Fame, which features candidates whose primary contribution to the game came prior to 1950, will reveal the outcome of the votes on Sunday, Dec. 5. Besides Donaldson, the others on the Early Baseball Era ballot includes Bill Dahlen, Bud Fowler, Vic Harris, Grant "Home Run" Johnson, Lefty O'Doul. Buck O'Neil, Dick "Cannonball" Redding, Allie Reynolds and George "Tubby" Scales.
It's taken Gorton and others a lot of work to tell Donaldson's story and finally get him on the Hall of Fame ballot. And Minneota has played a small part in Donaldson's journey.

Editor's note: Gorton has agreed to appear in Minneota and tell Donaldson's compelling story when details can be worked out.

Contact Us

The Minneota Mascot
Address: 201 N. Jefferson
Minneota, MN 56264

Phone:(507) 872-6492