1925 Game Reports     

John Donaldson, Swede Risberg, Happy Felsch

John DonaldsonDonaldson, 33 years of age, and with his best years behind him, signed for his second season with the Bertha, MN, Fishermen. He and his wife, Eleanor, both appreciated the small town rural life that Bertha afforded them and were especially thankful for the respect and treatment they received while there the previous summer.

The schedule began on April 26th and the Bertha team played 33 games, finishing with a record of 24 wins and 9 losses. Donaldson's record was 20 - 5.

The schedule, not being particularly heavy, allowed the big lefthander to work as a hired gun for a few other teams. In all, he pitched in 10 additional games. One of the teams he played for as a mercenary, the 1925 Plentywood, MT, club, tried to lure him away from Bertha for the rest of the season with offers of a better salary. Swede RisbergHappy FelschPlentywood had an intense baseball rivalry with Scobey, MT, 40 miles to the west on the Great Northern Railway. Swede Risberg (left) and Happy Felsch (right) had been hired as ringers for the Scobey Outlaws, receiving $600 per month plus expenses.

In an effort to upscale their bitter rivals, the Plentywoods offered Donaldson $650 per month plus expenses if he could get his release from Bertha. He refused to abandon the Fishermen but did fulfill his commitment to pitch three games for Plentywood against the rowdy, undisciplined Outlaws over a four-day span.

With hard-throwing Risberg, a great-glove, no-hit shortstop during his days in the show, taking the mound for Scobey in the opener, Donaldson went down to defeat 4 - 1 in a 10-inning thriller and then split the two follow-up contests, one against Felsch, to end with a not-so-impressive record of one win and two losses against Scobey.

Both the Plentywood and Scobey teams, being only a scant few miles from the Saskatchewan border, frequently travelled into the wheat province. Scobey had entered the July 1925 Kiwanis tournament in Moose Jaw while Donaldson, with a few days remaining on his leave-of-absence from Bertha, was picked up by Radville, a small Saskatchewan town not too far from the border.

Donaldson had a younger brother, James, who also played in MN with Minneota. The younger Donaldson died in August, 1925 from meningitis. John suited up for his brother's team on August 6th just before James' sudden passing and again on September 6th as a tribute to his fallen sibling. A pair of games with the Linsmore, MN, Gophers in September and a single pitching start in October for Clarkfield, MN, brought his season to an end.

Risberg preceded his ex-teammate Felsch to Scobey but, once they hooked up together, they guided the Outlaws to a 30 - 3 record, including the two wins against Donaldson.

The bitter, ever-sarcastic Risberg and the jocular Felsch really hit it off well with the Scobey fans, Felsch for his mammoth home runs and Risberg for his prowess on the mound, a position he had abandoned in the low minors as the White Sox organization converted him to a middle infielder. All of this went on in an environment of heavy gambling and drinking, which characterized Scobey at the time. Discipline was loose and the two feisty players were taunted unmercifully on the road. Arguments with fans, opposition players and officials commonly marked games and brawls were not uncommon. After one heated exchange between Felsch and a Moose Jaw fan, the fan was ejected from the ballpark but Felsch spotted him after the game and drilled him with a haymaker. Needless to say, the Scobey team had to leave the Mill City in a hurry.

Risberg left the Scobey team following the 1925 season but Felsch was lured back for one more campaign. Then, in 1927, he took over as playing-manager of the Regina Balmorals and guided the independent semi-pro squad to an exciting and successful season including games against Risberg's Lignite, ND, club.

The John Donaldson research project. This is Peter Gorton's labour of love.

Southern Saskatchewan


Southern Saskatchewan, Northern Montana - note Scobey and Plentywood just below the USA-Canada border.  Regina and Moose Jaw were the larger Saskatchewan centres, with other teams representing Gravelbourg, Radville, Milestone and Weyburn among other communities.

(June 9)  The touring Scobey, Montana, club pounded out 20 hits to whip the Regina All-Stars 14-6 before a record crowd of 2,500 at Park de Young in Regina.  Del Cottingham, former Milestone pitcher, held Regina to four hits, one of them a homer by Chuck Milne. Cottingham also helped the offense with four hits.  Outfielders Wally Hilden and Honey Guyer and second baseman Porky Dallas each had three hits. Swede Risberg, one of the principals of the 1919 White Sox scandal, played first base for Scobey and had a double in four tries.  Third baseman Johnny Meyers connected for a homer and double.  Johnny Herauf, who started for Regina, took the loss.  Shortstop George Hay had two hits for Regina.

Cottingham (W) and McIntyre
Herauf (L), Bateman (2), Young (8) and Leigh

(June 10)   The Moose Jaw Stars upset Scobey Outlaws 3-1 in an exhibition game at Moose Jaw. George Haigh fired a four-hitter for the win.  He fanned five without issuing any free passes.  Hughie Craigen was outstanding in left field making a half-dozen putouts, some on difficult running catches.  The locals scored all their runs in the 5th inning with Craigen leading off the frame with a single.  Eddie Scott reached on a base on balls and, with two outs, an error allowed both Craigen and Scott to cross the plate.  A third run scored on a sacrifice fly. Scobey has scored in the top of the 5th as Johnny Myers tripled and came around to notch the game's first marker. Myers handled mound duties for the visitors allowing just five hits. He had nine strikeouts and walked three.

Myers (L) and Hilden
Haigh (W) and Mills

(June 25)   Pitching ruled the day as Weyburn captured a win and a tie with Plentywood, Montana in exhibition action at Weyburn.  Steve Chekaluk pitched both games for the visitors, a four-hitter in the opener, a six-hitter in the 10-inning second game with a total of 19 strikeouts and just four walks in 19 innings of work.  Tschida held the Montana squad to five hits to win the first game.  Lefty Hartman matched Chuckaluk with a six-hitter in the second contest.  Swede Risberg (1 for 4 and 0 for 5) and Happy Felsch (with three hits in seven trips), disgraced former big leaguers, were in the lineup for the Americans.

Tschida (W) and McNeally
Chuckaluk (L) and Weinberger

Hartman and McNeally
Chuckaluk and Weinberger

(July 20)  In opening action at the Moose Jaw Kiwanis Tournament Radville topped Climax 5-3 behind the pitching of John Donaldson and Scobey and whipped Gravelbourg 20-1.

Donaldson held Climax to 8 hits while compiling 11 strikeouts without a base on balls. His two-run double in the 3rd inning was a key hit for the winners.  Elmer Leifer gave up just seven hits in taking the loss.

Leifer (L) and Comartin
Donaldson (W) and McNeally

Scobey amassed 24 hits, five by Swede Risberg, in trouncing Gravelbourg. Marshall and Johnny Myers each had a homer for the winners. Honey Guyer chipped in with four hits.

Seiffert, Myers (W) (3), Felsch (9), and Marshall
Terrien (L), Bealtie (6), Wilson (7) and Dakin

(July 22)   Scobey, Montana captured top money of $600 at the Moose Jaw Kiwanis Tournament trouncing Radville 14-0 in the final behind a three-hit pitching performance by Swede Risberg. The former White Sox major leaguer fanned ten and walked none. The American visitors had 15 hits, including a homer by Happy Felsch. Walker and Honey Guyer each had three hits.  Scobey scored three runs in the first inning and had a 9-0 lead in the 3rd. 

Risberg (W) and Marshall
Saddler (L), Shupe (4) and McNeally

(July 22)  John Donaldson had a perfect game as Radville moved into the Kiwanis Tournament final downing Moose Jaw 2-0.  Donaldson struck out 19 in his 27-up, 27-down performance. At the plate, Donaldson had two of Radville's five hits, one a double. George Haigh was the hard-luck loser, as both runs against him were unearned.  Radville got one in the 3rd inning as Ashton scored after reaching base when hit by a pitch and an error led to the second run in the 7th.

Haigh (L) and Kerr
Donaldson (W) and McNeally

(July 22)   Scobey had no trouble advancing to the tourney final cruising to a 15-1 triumph over Hodgeville as former major leaguers Swede Risberg and Happy Felsch combined for five hits and six runs. Felsch belted a homer and Risberg pounded out a pair of triples. 

Guyer, Dallas (7) and Marshall
Vold, Borthwick (7), Walkinshaw (9) and Dixon

(July 24)  The touring Scobey, Montana nine took a pair from the Regina All-Stars 8-5 and 6-2.  Swede Risberg and Happy Felsch provided much of the offense.  Felsch had two homers and two doubles while Risberg contributed a home run and three singles. Johnny Myers pitched complete game victories in both games.

Myers (W) and Marshall
Randolph (L) and Leigh

Myers (W) and Marshall
xxx (L) and xxx

(August 11)  Lefty Hartman fired a four-hitter with 16 strikeouts to lead Weyburn to a 3-1 win over Osage Auctioneers and a spot in the final of the Northside Baseball League Tournament.  Hartman's effort bested Swede Risberg who tossed a five-hitter with 13 strikeouts.  A triple steal by Hartman, McKenna and McNeally, resulted in Weyburn's first run.

Hartman (W) and McNeally
Risberg (L) and Wayne Lafoie                  

Regina moved to the final with a 5-1 victory over Moose Jaw.

A six-run 2nd inning carried Moose Jaw to an 11-6 win over Osage. George Haigh scattered 11 hits to hold on for the win.  Dawson had three hits, one a double, and three runs for the winners.

" ... Manager Crabbe, of Osage, showed a lamentable lack of judgment by letting "Specs" White pitch of nearly five long innings. The southpaw, who wears glasses, was away off his game, and his control would have done credit to an inebriated lumberjack driving a second-hand Ford truck through the woods of Maine.  It was too late to save the day when Crabbe finally sent Wylie Lafoie out on the mound;  and the Osage magnate will probably regret for many a day that he did not "pitch" Lafoie from the start. Wylie turned in a sterling game, fanning seven and allowing one hit and one run. The other ten counters were all scored off White, two of them being forged in when "Specs" issued four walks in the second stanza." (Regina Leader Post, August 13, 1925) 

Haigh (W) and Mills
Elmer White (L), Wylie Lafoie (4) and Wayne Lafoie

(August 12)   The Regina All-Stars whipped Weyburn 14-4 to take first prize money of $400 at the Northside League Tournament.  The Capital City nine pounded out 14 hits including home runs by George Hay and Happy HepburnLeo Seiffert went the distance for the Stars allowing eight hits. Lefty Hartman, going to the mound less than 24 hours after his outstanding effort against Osage, was the loser.

Seiffert (W) and Leigh
Hartman (L), Moroschan (5), Tscheda (9) and McNeally

(September 24)   The Helena Daily Independent, September 24, 1925, carried a story on the end of the season for the Scobey team, named the Sensation of the Year.

After triumphing in more than 85 per cent of the games played this season in four states and one Canadian province, the Scobey ball club disbanded last Sunday at Milbank, S.D., where the final game was played.

The boys had just completed a tour on which they played 27 games in 27 days, winning 20 and losing 7. They met the best that Saskatchewan, North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota had to offer in the way of independent ball clubs . . . It won 65 games and lost nine during the season. Two well known former White Sox players "Swede" Risberg and "Happy" Felsch were with the team all season.  (The Helena Daily Independent, September 24, 1925)