Dickson: Margaret Donahue, first lady of the front office

From SABR member Paul Dickson at The National Pastime Museum on May 15, 2014:

It is fitting and proper that Margaret “Midge” Donahue (1892–1978) is finally getting the attention she deserves as both an innovative front office baseball pioneer and as the first female executive in the game to have risen through the ranks. Her former employer — the Chicago Cubs — honored her as part of 2014’s 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field, and she is on the ballot for election to the Shrine of the Eternals of the Baseball Reliquary. The Chicago Baseball Museum is honoring her, and she was featured in a 2013 article in the Chicago Tribune.

Donahue was originally hired in 1919 as a stenographer by Club President William Veeck, the father of maverick baseball owner Bill Veeck — young Bill was five years old at the time she took the job. She would spend 40 years with the club.

Her credentials were less than impressive. After one year of high school, Donahue decided to drop out and enter the business world. She lost her first job in a laundry to a returning World War I veteran who claimed it under a law that gave preference to veterans. She then placed an ad in the Chicago Tribune offering her services. She received 18 offers of employment — accepting the first one she received, which was from Veeck and the Cubs. At the beginning of her employment there was only one other woman working for the team, the bookkeeper. But the other woman soon left, and Donahue then doubled as a bookkeeper and stenographer. She was one of the busiest workers in the game, handling ticket sales, stock transfers, press passes, checking receipts, paying employees, and depositing monies in a downtown vault. She also handled the gate receipts for all other Wrigley Field events, including the Chicago Bears professional football team beginning in 1921. Her work became increasingly demanding, and she was soon traveling with the club.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/margaret-donahue-first-lady-front-office

Originally published: May 15, 2014. Last Updated: May 15, 2014.