Marcus: Negro Leagues star John Donaldson is the best pitcher you’ve never heard of

From Steven Marcus at Newsday on February 8, 2018, with mention of SABR member Peter Gorton:

Who was John Wesley Donaldson and why is there a network of 500 baseball researchers bent on getting him a plaque in the Baseball Hall of Fame?

According to, Donaldson pitched in the Negro Leagues from 1916-21 and compiled a 23-20 record. The website acknowledges that his career numbers are incomplete.

In reality, Donaldson — who played for the Brooklyn Royal Giants in 1918 — won more than 400 games in a barnstorming career that began before the creation of organized Negro League baseball. Like Negro League legend Satchel Paige, Donaldson was still pitching — and winning — well beyond what modern-day players call their prime. Unlike Paige, Donaldson has yet to be enshrined in Cooperstown.


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Originally published: February 9, 2018. Last Updated: February 9, 2018.