On June 6, 1915 in an 18-inning game, Sioux Falls defeated the visiting All Nations club from Des Moines 1 to 0. But even though he got the loss, All Nations pitcher John Donaldson mowed down 30 Sioux Falls batters in a game the next day’s edition of the Minneapolis Morning Tribune described as the greatest game ever played at the Sioux Falls park. The paper also noted that it was the first game in four seasons the Sioux Falls club ever won from the great Donaldson.
In his heyday, John Donaldson was acclaimed as one of baseball’s greatest pitchers. During a playing career from 1908-1940, he won more than 350 games and had some 4,500 strikeouts. But as a black player barnstorming from town-to-town in the Midwest in the years before the baseball color barrier was broken, his name is mostly unknown today. Peter Gorton is working to change that. The Minneapolis man established The Donaldson Network of researchers and has been piecing together the pitcher’s life and career.
On Saturday beginning at 2 pm at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre, Peter Gorton gives his talk "400 Wins But Almost Forgotten: John Donaldson’s Baseball Legacy.” Gorton joined Dakota Midday and discussed Donaldson's legacy and why it's important to remember.
You can see rare film footage of John Donaldson in action here.