What’s Unique About this 1929 Cubs’ Team Photo??

What’s Unique About this 1929 Cubs’ Team Photo??

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  What’s Unique About this 1929 Cubs’ Team Photo??

OK…Here’s something a bit different. Check out this neat photo of the 1929 National League pennant-winning Cubs. There’s a lot of familiar names in there, like Rogers Hornsby, Kiki Cuyler, Gabby Hartnett, Hack Wilson, Charlie Root, Joe McCarthy, Bill Veeck, Sr., and owner William Wrigley. Unfortunately, this team met defeat in the 1929 World Series, made memorable by Hack Wilson losing two balls in the sun as the Cubs blew a 8-run lead in Game Four.

Be sure to click on the photo for a clearer, much larger view.

A couple interesting tidbits: One of our readers, Mike Cvengros, is a descendant of Cub pitcher Mike Cvengros, seen here in the front row. Our contributor, Ron Waldo, has written a book on Kiki Cuyler, seen in the middle row. He has also written about Bob Lewis, the traveling secretary.

But the reason this photo is truly unique – as great as it is – is not because of any of the ball players. It’s because of the little lady in the center row. Her name is Margaret “Midge” Donohue, and she is generally recognized as the first female to rise to an executive position in a major league front office. Over the years of identyfing players in team photos, I often saw this little lady in Cub team photos from the 1920’s and ’30’s and wondered who she was. After a little research, I soon found out that she was truly one of baseball’s “originals.”

Click on the link to see a nice photo tribute to Margaret Donohue and Bill Veeck, Sr.: http://wp.me/p7a04E-2BR

Margaret was hired by Cub president Bill Veeck, Sr. in 1919 as a secretary; and she was still with the Cubs forty years later until her retirement in 1959. Although long forgotten with the pasage of time, Margaret was recently honored by the Cubs as part of the 2014 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field.

In past posts, I’ve made the case that William Veeck, Sr. a true baseball pioneer and innovator, deverves consideration for the Hall of Fame for all his contributions to the game. None of his accomplishments was more significant than his forsight in hiring Margaret Donahue and allowing her to rise through the Cubs’ executive ranks. In doing so, he opened the door for women to enter the staid, chauvenistic “men-only” world of major league baseball’s front office.

Starting off as a stenographer/bookkeeper, Margaret soon was in charge of handling ticket sales, press passes, checking receipts, paying employees, depositing money in a downtown Chicago vault, and even stock transfers. If something needed to be done, the task was given to Margaret. She eventually handled gate receipts for all other Wrigley Field events, including the Chicago Bears.

Cub president Bill Veeck, Sr. made the following announcement at the 1924 National League meeting in New York regarding Margaret Donahue:

“I haven’t signed any players recently, but I’ll tell you what I have done that means much to our club. Our board of directors has elected a new club Secretary, a woman, the only woman Secretary in organized ball. Her name is Miss Margaret Donahue and she has been with the club offices for seven years. We feel that in Miss Donahue we have added a real asset to our club organization.”

Donahue’s promotion was a national story. The Sporting News ran a feature story about her, as did the Chicago Tribune on December 14, 1926. A picture of her sitting at a desk was accompanied by the headline, “She’s a Baseball Boss.”

Besides being the first woman to ascend to an executive level, Margaret is credited with introducing several novel ideas. One was the notion of selling season tickets which she began for the 1929 season, a baseball first which became an immediate success. Margaret was also responsible for developing a precursor to Ticketron, Ticketmaster, and other remote entities by developing a system in which tickets could be bought immediately at any Western Union telegraph office rather than only in person or by mail.

Along with Veeck, she was also part of a crusade to bring more women to the ballpark.Together, they engineered large-scale “Ladies Day” promotions. As the number of women at the ballpark increased, Veeck proclaimed this as evidence of a “new age of women in sport.” This, of course, meant higher profits as entire families now were likely to attend games. In 1932, Veeck estimated that 25 percent of all paying fans on Sundays were women. Another of Donahue’s personal triumphs came after a three-year battle when she was able to get the club’s directors to grant special reduced-price tickets for children under 12.

In addition to her front office responsibilities, Margaret Donahue was truly devoted to the game. In 1954, when she was still with the Cubs as a full vice president, Bill Veeck, Jr., who worked for her after his father died in 1933, summed up her baseball acumen:

“Margaret Donahue is as astute a baseball operator as ever came down the pike. Margaret has forgotten more baseball in her forty years with the Cubs than most of the so-called magnates will ever know.”

At her retirement, team owner Phillip K. Wrigley issued a proclamation on behalf of the Cubs’ Board of Directors stating she was “a nationally acknowledged authority on the intricacies of baseball rules and regulations.” According to another source, she was the Cubs’ expert on player trades and waiver deals.

Although baseball all but forgot about Margaret Donahue until very recently, her accomplishments are among those listed, among other places, in “The Book of Women’s Firsts: Breakthrough Achievements of Almost 1,000 American Women.”

Let’s take a moment to honor the memory of Margaret Donahue, the first female to enter baseball’s executive ranks; and the baseball pioneer who had the forsight to hire her, William Veeck, Sr.

-Gary Livacari

Photo Credits: All from Google search

Infomation: Excerpts edited from aarticle on Margaret Donahue, read more at: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/margaret-donahue-first-lady-front-office

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I'm a baseball historian who also loves to write. My forte is identifying ballplayers in old photos, and my specail interest is the Dead Ball Era.

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