A baseball historian in Minnesota heard stories of baseball legend. After visiting the local historical society in Bertha, MN, that historian, Pete Groton, found proof of the player’s popularity in an advertisement from around the 1920s that read: “John Donaldson; Greatest Colored Pitcher in the World.” In order to find more information on Donaldson, Groton founded the Donaldson Network of researchers. By 2008, there was a network of about 500 research across the country digging through newspapers, archives, and old photos to recreate Donaldson’s career. According to the Network’s website:
“Our wish is that Mr. Donaldson will someday be properly inducted (and not “allowed”) into the Baseball Hall of Fame, but that can’t be our final goal. The real goal must be to unearth as much information about Donaldson, and then try to tell the story from there. Each box score and article turn over a new page, and often open up another missing day (or, as we’ve found, dozens of missing days). It would be impossible for any one person to finish this task, alone, in one lifetime.”
The Donaldson Network received the John Coates Next Generation Award for exemplary research from SABR’s Negro Leagues Committee in 2008. In 2011, Pete Groton was honored in 2011 by the Society of American Baseball Research Negro Leagues Committee with the Tweed Webb Lifetime Achievement Award for his efforts. They also have a pretty cool store on Zazzle.