John Wesley Donaldson Profile - 05:06 - Mar 26, 2007 - johndonaldson.bravehost.com
John Wesley Donaldson (1891-1970). Known as a power pitcher, John Donaldson was the best left-handed barnstorming pitcher in black baseball history. During his prime seasons from 1911 to 1918, he “had near-perfect control,” according to noted historian Robert Peterson, and had a “sharp-breaking curve ball that was faster than most pitchers’ fastballs.” Upon the founding of the Negro League in 1920, he played mainly as a standout outfielder for the "top clubs," most notably the Kansas City Monarchs, into the 1930s. The star hurler of J. L. Wilkinson’s All Nations team, Donaldson first brought interracial baseball to hundreds of American cities. His 296 complete games came despite the rigors of constant travel. Donaldson's charisma and excellence was a countermeasure to the deep-seated prejudices of the era and his stellar character helped break down racial stereotypes. As of March 26, 2007, he has documented 235 wins and holds career marks of 3832 strikeouts that place him among the games all-time best. He was the best-known barnstorming pitcher in the decade before Satchel Paige, and Paige pitched on many diamonds where Donaldson had dominated earlier. Donaldson always had a stellar reputation in baseball circles. Former Negro League ballplayers selected John Donaldson as their first-team left-handed pitcher in the definitive 1952 Pittsburgh Courier poll; and his amazing lifetime 1.37 ERA proves he belonged there. Other polls from savvy insiders like Tweed Webb and the Chicago Defender writers echoed this judgment. Donaldson's talent even prompted Hall of Fame manager John McGraw of the New York Giants to say, “I think he is the greatest I ever have seen and I would give $50,000 for him if it weren’t for the color line in baseball.” After the fall of the color line Donaldson made history by becoming major league baseball’s first full-time black scout for the Chicago White Sox. Although the records of Donaldson’s achievements will never be complete, what has been uncovered has re-established his reputation as the premier left-handed barnstorming pitcher in black baseball during his career with the All Nations and also as a great outfielder with the Kansas City Monarchs.