Good Old Mike

Damon Runyon

New York American/January 9, 1917

 The Mornin’s Mornin’

It was announced the other day that Mike Donlin, the former Giant, has signed up to manage the Memphis club, of the Southern Association, in 1917.

We hope it is true. Memphis is one of the best minor league baseball towns in America, and it will give Mike a chance to display his qualifications as a team leader.

We have always been of the opinion that the old-time slugger would make a good manager, and have often wondered why some magnate did not give him the opportunity. Maybe it is because Mike could not see the terms that most magnates—minor and major—generally tender a new leader. One thing about Mike, he never held himself cheap, and there was never anything cheap about him.

He was that way in the big league. He nearly always got a good salary, and he always earned a good salary. He was a real big leaguer at heart during his playing days, and he is a big leaguer at heart today.

Never a more picturesque character walked the ball field than Michael J. Donlin. He had color and personality through all the years that the followed the game. He was the beau ideal of the big league ball player with the fans on down to the very day that he turned in his uniform for the last time.

It is to be regretted that more Donlins do not come along in baseball. There was a period in his diamond career when he was a little too stormy even for one of the stormiest periods of the pastime; when his room was regarded by baseball as better than his company, but the fact that he lived all that down, and came to be one of the heroes of the field, shows his real caliber.

He Always Hustled

In late years Mike suffered some few vicissitudes of fortunes, one way and another, but he never lost the old fighting spirit that was characteristic of his baseball days. He always kept his head up, and was always hustling, just as he was on the field.

For some weeks past Mike has been acting as matchmaker for Hugh Grant Browne, who is booking a fight carnival for his new racetrack in Havana. Moreover, Michael is assembling a ball club to take to Cuba to play a series of games in Browne’s park.

These matters will keep him busy until spring, when he will go to Memphis to take up baseball. This winter Mike was in vaudeville with his old stage partner, Marty McHale, formerly of the Yanks, so it will be seen that Donlin is a fairly active citizen.

A Yarn on Mike


We never think of Mike but what we think of a little story on him. He was a great dresser in his baseball days, with a weakness for all the fancy sartorial doo-dads of the hour. One day when he was with the Boston club he ran into Sid Mercer, the New York baseball writer, in the lobby of a Philadelphia hotel, and Sid noted that Michael was a plate of fashion and a mould of form, as the poet says.

He wore a carefully tailored suit of gray; his haberdashery was just so; his hair was combed back in a long sweep from his alabaster brow in the very latest college boy fashion, and in one hand he twirled a nifty little bamboo stick.

“Say, Mike,” said Sid, who remembered the slugger from Michael’s rough-house era, “What would you have done a few years ago if you had met a guy made up the way you are?”

Mike blushed slightly, then went over to a mirror and carefully surveyed himself. Then he came back to report.

“Sid,” he said, earnestly, “I’d a-busted him right in the nose.”

Weinert and Dillon

“Just a Reader” wants to know how many times Charley Weinert and Jack Dillon have met, and the results thereof. The answer is twice. They first met in Philadelphia in 1914, and the alleged man-killer stopped the long lad from Newark in two rounds. It must be remembered that Charles was more or less of a novice at that time.

They met again in New York in 1915, and the bout went ten rounds. Dillon won on points. Weinert fought only a few times in 1916. He would probably be a much better ring man if he had more work, but his manager will probably reply to that criticism that the other lads will not give Charles the opportunity of more work.

Cowler and Fulton

One of our heavyweight crop will probably be retired to the boneyard of championship expectations tonight after the returns from Brooklyn are in.

The terrible T. Cowler meets the furious F. Fulton, and all of our set are looking forward to a pleasant evening. The winner of this bout is expected to meet Frank Moran over the distance route in Cuba.

It is our private opinion that the winner will most earnestly endeavor to do nothing of the sort. Frank Moran and forty rounds is nothing whatever for a rising pugilist to look forward to, and the chances are that the winner of the Brooklyn battle will try to claim a match with Willard on the strength of that battle alone.

Of course, he will not get it. Willard’s handlers are trying hard to build up an opponent for him, but they are not going to do it of material of that sort. A definite victory for either Cowler or Fulton tonight and then a real win over Moran would be an altogether different matter.

We have one word of advice to offer the big boys who mingle this evening. We would warn them to be very careful that they do not both eliminate themselves at one go. It has been known to happen.

(Source: University of Wisconsin/New York American microfilm archive)

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