Donaldson Network Mission Statement
Posted on August 24, 2009
The overall mission of The Donaldson Network is to tell the story of John Donaldson everywhere we can, to as many people as we can. We are doing this as we continue to learn his story.
The first mission regarding John Donaldson, the champion pitcher, was to tell the story about how the people of Minnesota loved him, came to watch him in droves, and tell how he won so many games in every little corner of Minnesota.
This part of the mission has been completed, in part, in a book entitled "Swinging for the Fences." The chapter on Donaldson is written by Peter W. Gorton of Minneapolis and is edited by Stephen R. Hoffbeck.
Gorton writes two chapters, one of them focusing on many of John Donaldson's statistics, a prime example of the player's raw talent and hard work, a long, hard life on the rails and on the road, playing baseball in the small towns stretching out across the Minnesota prairie. The chapter offers us a glimpse into an era before TVs were in every house, before movie theaters were as common as grocery stores, and baseball, as entertainment, was king.
After this mission was accomplished, it was obvious that more needed to be done. The stories about and surrounding Donaldson are far too deep and too complicated to wrap up in a chapter, and perhaps, a book. There may be several books in the future about Donaldson, about farm leagues, about "barnstorming" teams, about life before the Negro Leagues, and about everyone common, famous and infamous surrounding Donaldson. We have made big strides this year by starting a list of every player, owner, manager, and umpire John Donaldson played with and played against.
That's where our mission begins. Before all of the newspapers fade, and before the microfilm falls apart or gets too scratched up to read, we want to find everything we can regarding John Donaldson before his story is lost. Call it a well-constructed intelligent guess, or call it a simple hunch, but what we believe we have here is the story of the greatest ball player who ever lived, yet never was allowed into the Major Leagues.
Our wish is that Mr. Donaldson will someday be properly inducted (and not "allowed") into the Baseball Hall of Fame, but that can't be our final goal. The real goal must be to unearth as much information about Donaldson, and then try to tell the story from there. Each box score and article turn over a new page, and often open up another missing day (or, as we've found, dozens of missing days). It would be impossible for any one person to finish this task, alone, in one lifetime. Therefore, we come to our real mission here at the "Donaldson Network."
We believe that networking, the better use of friendships, technology, random acts of kindness, proper recognition for achievement and working together is a better way to build a research team. The use of web pages like this one, email, and even mind-mapping are all ways a research effort can grow, yet adapt to the ever-changing story. Once a book is written, it can only be revised and not changed. So we hope to build and change this site and streamline our efforts.
Why is this so important? Perhaps finding new research methods will help everyone who wants to preserve the past. If this works, the idea of researchers being forced to drive long miles can be replaced by a few emails and phone calls. We just don't know, because the idea of unpaid research (even when it's 15-minutes of a person's time on some days) isn't exactly an appealing thought. But, down the road, when YOU need to research something, wouldn't it be a comforting thought that you know of somebody in, say, Pierre, South Dakota, who might have an hour to look up something for you?
So take a look around the website. If helping to research an almost-forgotten ballplayer appeals to you, take a look at some missing games; Games we know should exist, on the approximate dates and towns they were said to exist.
If you are interested in contributing to the Donaldson effort, but aren't sure how, download this form to get started. Send us an email to see if there's anything you can do (firstname.lastname@example.org). And if you're looking for a historical speaker to come to your town to speak at your event (especially if it's about baseball...) consider trying to get somebody like Mr. Gorton (our lead researcher at the Donaldson Network) to come to your town. If he can't, chances are he might be able to find somebody who can!
And, as always, be sure to check back to our website here in this humble corner of the internet. The pages are perpetually updating, and there are so many games, articles, ads and stories, it will probably take five lifetimes just to post it here for you to read. But we hope to get it all up here eventually.
Thanks for stopping in!