Michael Joseph Donlin was an American Major League Baseball outfielder and actor. As a professional player, his MLB career spanned from 1899 to 1914 in which he played mainly in the National League for seven teams over 12 seasons. His most notable time was with the New York Giants, where he starred in the outfield for John McGraws 1904 pennant winners and 1905 World Series champions. One of the finest hitters of the era, his.333 career batting average ranks 28th all time. In each of those seasons, he also finished in the top ten in the league in on-base percentage, slugging percentage. However, alcoholism led to friction with club officials and incarceration, Donlin attempted to leverage his popularity as an athlete to launch a career in Broadway theatre where he met and married Vaudeville comedian Mabel Hite in 1906. Together, they performed in the baseball-themed play Stealing Home for about three years, between the waning popularity of the play in 1911 and Hites death the following year, Donlin attempted short-lived comebacks with the Giants, Boston Rustlers, and Pittsburgh Pirates. His forays into acting cut short an undeniable talent that could have been a more successful major league career. After convincing McGraw to sign him for the last time in 1914, Donlin endured a disappointing 35-game cameo with the Giants and he migrated to Hollywood, where close friend John Barrymore helped him attain work. Although he made at least 53 appearances on film, the prospects of stardom never materialized, Donlin remained in Hollywood continuing in his acting career until his death in 1933. Donlin made his way to California and was playing for the Santa Cruz Sandcrabs in 1899 when he was purchased by the St. Louis Perfectos for little more than train fare, Donlin learned of the transaction while he was locked up in a Santa Cruz jail for drunkenness. He gained admittance when he first arrived at St. Louis League Park by pointing the gatekeeper to a photograph of himself which he had pinned to his lapel. Despite not joining the team until mid-July, he finished 10th in the National League in home runs, the following season he hit.326 and finished 3rd in home runs with 10 while only playing in about half of St. Louis games. Turkey Mike, nicknamed because of his gait while walking, hit.340 with Baltimore, but in March of 1902, he was sentenced to six months in prison for his actions during a drinking binge and was promptly released by the Orioles. After serving his time, Donlin was picked up by the Cincinnati Reds, in 1903, he finished third in the league in hitting at.351 and placed in the top five in the National League in virtually every offensive category. Donlin hit.356 in 1904, when he had another drunken episode in St. Louis, the Reds first suspended him for 30 days and then traded him to the New York Giants, where he was once again reunited with John McGraw who was now managing the team. Donlin finished out the 1904 season hitting a respectable.280 after the trade and his combined batting average for 1904 ended up at.329, good enough for second in the league for the second time in the career of the 26-year-old. Donlin followed up with the best season of his career in 1905 and he led the Giants to the World Series where he hit.263 and scored 4 runs in 5 games as the Giants defeated the Philadelphia Athletics for their first World Series Championship
Donlin in 1903
Mike Donlin and his first wife, Mabel Hite, around 1910.