The ballot paper in the Early Baseball Era contains candidates whose primary contribution to the game came before 1950. Ten candidates – seven Negro leagues and legends from pre-Negro leagues and three stars from the American League / National League – are on this year’s ballot: Bill Dahlen, John Donaldson, Bud Fowler , Vic Harris, Grant “Home Run” Johnson, Lefty O’Doul, Buck O’Neil, Dick “Cannonball” Redding, Allie Reynolds and George “Tubby” Scales.
As with the Golden Days Era ballot paper, a candidate must receive 75% of the ballot papers cast by the 16-member committee to be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Introductory announcements come Sunday.
Donaldson and Fowler have strong ties to Minnesota baseball:
John Wesley Donaldson
Donaldson, who was born in Glasgow, Mo., in 1891, was named one of the best players to ever appear in the Negro Leagues in a 1952 Pittsburgh Courier poll. Donaldson, who had a 30-year playing career, played on teams that stormed across the United States and Canada and were a founding member of the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro National League in 1920.
A group of researchers led by Pete Gorton, a baseball historian in Minneapolis, has documented that Donaldson played in 744 cities in the United States and Canada – including 130 cities in Minnesota. The group has documented 422 wins and 5177 strikeouts for Donaldson. He is credited with throwing two perfect games and 14 no-hitters.
Donaldson made history when he was hired as the first black scout in the majors, for the Chicago White Sox in 1949.
Fowler, who was born John Jackson Jr., was the first acclaimed black professional baseball player – as a 20-year-old in 1878. In 1884, Fowler became the Black player in organized baseball when he played for Stillwater in the Northwestern League. Minneapolis and St. Paul also had teams in the 14-team league.
Fowler had a record of 7-8 as a pitcher and beat .302 in 48 games for Stillwater, who had a record of 21-46. In 1895, Fowler co-founded Page Fence Giants, one of the first successful Black child-storming teams. Early in the 1895 season, the Giants played a four-game series in Minneapolis against the Minneapolis Millers. Fowler was the player-manager of the team.