Dee Dee Neal of rural Staples received the Old Wadena Society's "Friend of Old Wadena" award for lifetime achievement in helping others learn about the ecology, history, and pre-history of the Crow Wing ecosystem at the Society's annual meeting on Sunday. Dee Dee continues to help others learn about the cultural and natural importance of the Old Wadena County Historic Park. The Neal family was honored as Wadena County's 2017 farm family of the year.
Pete Gorton of Minneapolis gave a stirring lecture about John Wesley Donaldson, a great but little-known African American baseball player, who was one of the greatest players of all time. Donaldson played for the Kansas City Monarchs, racking up 406 wins and 5,050 strikeouts in the early years of the 20th century. His career included playing for three years on the Bertha, Minnesota team in the 1920's. The Chicago White Sox hired Donaldson as a scout in 1949. He was the first African-American to hold such a position in major league baseball.
Pete Gorton has been collecting information about Donaldson to encourage consideration for his inclusion in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Donaldson was included in the 2006 induction vote of members of the Negro League but he did not receive enough votes, primarily because there was so little known about him. Pete Gorton is helping to set the record straight. He is involved in the creation of a 90 minute documentary about the life of Donaldson titled "39 seconds." The title refers to the only film footage in existence of Donaldson playing. If the film is completed in time it will be screened at this year's Whiskey Creek Film Festival with Pete Gorton as special guest.