GLASGOW - Part of our nation's pastime, can present a problem when it comes to some of the greatest players of all time. Just take the story of John Wesley Donaldson for example.
“That was completely forgotten because of who he was and what he looked like. And, that’s ridiculous," Pete Gorton said, a Minnesota man who has spent decades digging up the career of the late Donaldson.
Gorton has found a record 413 wins and more than 5,000 strike outs and still many have never heard Donaldson's name.
“Understand that when I started nobody knew who he was, relatively nobody does today, and that was 20 years ago," Gorton said.
Born and raised in Glasgow, Missouri, Donaldson grew up to become a left handed legend.
“There just weren’t people throwing the ball the way he was at the time…it’s possible that he was an innovator of the art of pitching," Gorton said.
Donaldson played more than 30 seasons in the Negro Leagues in the early 1900s including two years in the Kansas City Monarchs that he helped found.
And, in rare film footage that lasts just 39 seconds, it shows Donaldson pitching in 1925.
"He strikes out 18 guys that day," Gorton said about the footage.
Some argue Donaldson was one of the greatest all of all time, Gorton has the newspaper clippings to prove it.
“Every time John Donaldson played in Chicago the newspapers in Chicago said, ‘Why isn’t he playing for the Chicago Cubs? Why isn’t he playing for the Chicago White Sox? He’s better than anybody they have.' The color barrier prevented that, society prevented that, we’re simply not going to prevent that anymore," Gorton said.
In September, the community in Glasgow came together to honor the left handed pitcher. They raised money, got support from local leaders and manicured the land donated by Jason Monnig's family.
“I hope that also people take a look back and say, 'Hey, it is never too late to do the right thing, there are probably a whole bunch of stories like this...There could be other communities honoring other people, it’s never too late to do that," Monnig said.
Donaldson died in 1970, but his family was there to celebrate the moment including his great nephew Stacy Herriford.
"It’s helping bring in a lot of people together and I’m grateful for that. You know, black and white, not just black...and I hope people come together instead of being divided," Herriford said.
The local school district approved a new field named in Donaldson's honor. His name is printed in bold letters at the top of the scoreboard.
And, they erected a statue of Donaldson right beside it.
"We talk a lot today about being a part of change. African American legacies matter in this country. And our effort on behalf of John Donaldson proves that," Gorton said.
"It's time to be honored," Herriford said about his great uncle. "It's time to be recognized."
It's finally Donaldson's time to shine.
"Seeing his face in the sun as it would have been 100 years ago, I’ve imagined for decades," Gorton said after seeing the new statue. "John Donaldson doesn’t have to stand in the shadows anymore.”
Donaldson was offered the chance to play in the Major Leagues, but only if he disowned his family and said he was Cuban. Donaldson said, no.
He's quoted as saying he is clean both morally and physically. He went on to play nearly 700 games and retired in 1941.
To learn more about his career, check out The Donaldson Network.