Thursday, March 15, 2012

Nickname #12 - March 15, 2012

New York Giant and vaudeville performer Turkey Mike Donlin got his nickname from his swagger on and off the field.  He married actress Mabel Hite and left baseball for the stage.  And came back.  And left.  And so on.  This article, from the 31-July-1909 Tacoma Times, talks about how Miss Hite reformed him.  It didn't last. Bob Fitz was heavyweight champ Bob Fitzsimmons.  John McGraw managed the New York Giants from 1903 to 1933.  E H Sothern was a famous Shakespearean actor. Eddie Foy was a musical comedy and vaudeville star.

Mabel Hite-Donlin, Reformer Two Stories in One, With an Obvious Moral Attached

In the announcement — Mike Donlin, captain and manager of the Philadelphia Nationals — are gathered several interesting stories.

One is of a romance of baseball and the making of a man.

If you'll remember, big Mike Donlin was always a great ball player. He could slam the ball a mile, was quick-witted, and lightning on the paths.

But at different times in the old days managers bad a lot of trouble with him. Mike was noisy and would break all training rules and get in trouble off the field.

At one time, in Baltimore, Donlln was cast off, and it looked for a time as though, in spite of his ability, that he was up against it for a chance to play. But John T Brush picked him up, and he was better — for a while.
Then came a slip of a girl into Mike's life - Mabel Hite, the actress. And the big ball player fell very much in love. As Bob Fitz said of Peter Maher: "The bigger they are the harder they fall." But Mabel was a wise child.

"You've got to mend your ways," she said. "And promises don't go. I have to be shown."

She put him on a year's probation. And Mike Donlin in that year became a new man.

At the end of the year, city broke and bridle wise, Mike was so steady and earnest that McGraw made him captain of the Giants and Mabel made him her husband.

This is the first story. The other involves Mike as an actor.

Capt. Donlin, the idol of base-ball loving New York, was persuaded to go into vaudeville, Mabel with him, of course. And because be was Mike Donlin, the Idol, be got away with it. There was big money and the S. R. O. sign on the door.

So it happened that when signing-up time came, his salary on the Giants' payroll looked small to Mike. They wouldn't put it where he thought it ought to be, so he and Mabel went on acting while the Giants went south without him. Some soreness developed between him and the club.

A revelation came to Mike after a few months. Out west people who had heard of Mike the ball player, couldn't understand what he was doing away from the Polo grounds when the fighting was going on.
It isn't any slam on Mike to say he is not a great actor like Booth and Garrick. For that matter can you imagine E. H. Sothern and Eddie Foy trying out for the Giants?

Anyhow, Mike the ex-ball player wasn't the howling S. R. O. success that Mike the ball player-actor was.

Anyhow, he was getting restless away from the firing line. He missed its excitement.

The old soreness which started last fall made it hard for Mike to go back to New York.

Hence Philadelphia.

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