Archive for September, 2011

The Day Maje McDonnell Angered Jackie Robinson

September 23, 2011

Robert “Major League” McDonnell (1920-2010) was from the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia and an outstanding high school and college athlete who joined the Philadelphia Phillies as a batting practice coach right out of school after World War II.  He was beloved by mostly everyone in the organization but one day during the time of the Whiz Kids, he angered Jackie Robinson.

Back in 1950, McDonnell was yelling racist remarks and other expletives at Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe from the visitor’s dugout at Ebbets Field. Jackie Robinson trotted in from his spot at thirdbase to the pitcher’s mound and said, “Newk, you hear that guy?  What are you going to do about that?”  And Don Newcombe responded, “I hear him. I got good ears. I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m gonna pick out the best Phillies batter and knock him on his ass.”

When Phillies outfielder Del Ennis came to bat, Don Newcombe made him hit the dirt with two high and inside fastballs.  Ennis walked over to his own bench, said something to Maje McDonnell, then proceeded to strikeout at the plate.

Years later, Don Newcombe got to play with Del Ennis on the Cincinnati Reds and asked him what he had said to the boisterous batting practice pitcher. Del Ennis told him that he was getting knocked down for what McDonnell was saying to Newcombe and he’s the one who has to bat against him, not McDonnell.  If he continued to say such things, Ennis threatened to rip McDonnell’s tongue out of his mouth and lay it in his own hand.  From then on, McDonnell quieted down and never said another word to irritate either Jackie Robinson or Don Newcombe.

Del Ennis could be very persuasive.