The Early Baseball Era ballot features candidates whose primary contribution to the game came before 1950. Ten candidates — seven Negro Leagues and pre-Negro Leagues legends and three American League/National League stars — 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, a candidate needs to receive votes on 75% of the ballots cast by the 16-member committee to earn election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Induction announcements will come Sunday.
Donaldson and Fowler have strong connections 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 poll by the Pittsburgh Courier in 1952. Donaldson, who had a 30-year playing career, played on teams that barnstormed throughout the United States and Canada and was a founding member of the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro National League in 1920.
A group of researchers led by Pete Gorton, a Minneapolis baseball historian, has documented that Donaldson pitched in 744 cities in the U.S. and Canada — including 130 towns in Minnesota. The group has documented 422 wins and 5,177 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 acknowledged 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 7-8 record as a pitcher and batted .302 in 48 games for Stillwater, which had a 21-46 record. In 1895, Fowler helped form the Page Fence Giants, one of the first successful Black barnstorming teams. Early in the 1895 season, the Giants played a four-game exhibition series in Minneapolis against the Minneapolis Millers. Fowler was the player-manager of the team.