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Mar 04

Alexander Donoghue Jumps Ship

This story exhibits the fine madness that played out during the summer of 1890. Washington rejected by the majors found itself in the minors, the Atlantic Association, to be exact.
It is a period of turmoil. There are three major leagues and the local rooters complain that they are tired of the legal fighting that has become associated with the game of baseball.

In Washington the young magnate, Walter Hewitt, has been a case study in failure. He did nothing in the run up to the season, losing even what allies he might have had in the all powerful League.

With three leagues in play, talent is at a premium. But Hewitt dithers and dallies, so by late spring he has only left-over’s and not much money to sign them. Trader Ted Sullivan did what he could with what he had and did discover some gems. And some players were signed to League contracts, imposing a stiff financial burden on the team.

Hewitt had stadium available but instead of signing a one year lease on the old League Park, he built a new one. Location, location, location, sadly the customers hated the new park, it was not near public transpiration and he had to eventually moves back to the old ball park.

In was thus that in late July Ted Sullivan signs a 26 year old ballplayer from Altoona to play left field. Alexander Donoghue’s arrival sparks some interest, one paper noting that he is regarded as the coming batsman of the country. In every paper but the Herald his name is spelled as Donohue.

He is a left handed outfielder, although has played some at second and first. He broke in with Altoona in the Pennsylvania State Association in 1886, batting .276. He’s debut is an 11-0 loss to Baltimore on 26 July.

The financial difficulties come to the forefront on 1 August. As reported in the press, The disbandment of the Washington Baseball Club took place this morning in the office of Assignee Coleman, who made up his mind yesterday that the thing had to come to an end. He met the men with Manager Ted Sullivan at 9:30AM. The players who had read the news printed in last night’s Washington Evening Star, were not in a happy frame of mind. They were inclined to feel ugly, for they had not been a paid a cent of their salaries for July. MR. AW Coleman made a little speech to them, telling them that the treasury of the club was empty and that there was nothing with which to pay their salaries; that he, as assignee, had come to the conclusion that it was useless to continue any longer, since money was lost on nearly every game played. Last night’s defeat by New Haven had been the last straw. He expressed his regrets at the situation and his sympathy for the men, but added that there was nothing he could do to help them out of the hole. When he had concluded a murmur of discontent ran through the overpoweringly hot air, as the men shifted in their seats and mopped their faces. One or two of them made remarks to the effect that they would get their money anyhow, but after a little desultory conversation, uninspired by hope, the players filed out of the room after manager Ted1 August The disbandment of the Washington Baseball Club took place this morning in the office of Assignee Coleman, who made up his mind yesterday that the thing had to come to an end. He met the men with Manager Ted Sullivan at 9:30AM. The players who had read the news printed in last night’s Washington Evening Star, were not in a happy frame of mind. They were inclined to feel ugly, for they had not been a paid a cent of their salaries for July. MR. AW Coleman made a little speech to them, telling them that the treasury of the club was empty and that there was nothing with which to pay their salaries; that he, as assignee, had come to the conclusion that it was useless to continue any longer, since money was lost on nearly every game played. Last night’s defeat by New Haven had been the last straw. He expressed his regrets at the situation and his sympathy for the men, but added that there was nothing he could do to help them out of the hole. When he had concluded a murmur of discontent ran through the overpoweringly hot air, as the men shifted in their seats and mopped their faces. One or two of them made remarks to the effect that they would get their money anyhow, but after a little desultory conversation, uninspired by hope, the players filed out of the room after manager Ted

Later that same day Alexander Donoghue decides to head to greener pastures. He jumps and signs with the Lebanon Club. Lebanon is in the same association as Washington. In fact they are in Washington to play two games against the Statesmen. The only problem is that Manager Sullivan and given him $100 in advance money. The papers will note, “As Donoghue only played in five games, during which he made one hit, it is a rather steep money for his service.”

The first game has Donoghue wearing the uniform of Lebanon. He is confronted by protests from the Washington players and the spectators. The paper neatly summarizes the issue. The rest of the Washington players were enraged at his scurvy work and threatened to refuse to play, but as it was imperative for them to raise a stake they sacrificed and let the renegade play.

In the latter half of the sixth inning the unpleasantness forces Lebanon Manager, Jim Randall, to take his men from the field. The disturbance was caused by a dispute over the Guarantee, the money to be paid the visiting team. The matter is soon settled and the game continues. It was finally agreed that Donoghue should keep the money and the Washington’s the guarantee. Washington wins the first game that day by a score of13-0 but losses the afternoon game, 5 to 3. Washington’s season ends on 4 August.

Donoghue meanwhile will play six games for the 1891 Philadelphia League team, he bats a respectable .318. Alexander returns to the minors and continues playing until 1896 Donoghue passes away in Pittsburgh in 1931, he was 67.