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Date and Place of Birth: July 20, 1920 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Date and Place of Death: July 8, 2010 Philadelphia
Military Unit: 379th Infantry Regiment, 95th Infantry Division US Army
Area Served: European Theater of Operations
A. "Maje" McDonnell was born in
Despite standing at just 5-foot 6-inches and weighing 130 pounds, McDonnell was a baseball and basketball standout at
military discharge in 1945, McDonnell returned to Villanova and
struck out seven in a 7-6 loss to the Phillies in 1947,
prompting an offer to join the team
as batting practice pitcher by General Manager Herb Pennock.
"You can't imagine how excited I was. Mr. Pennock wanted me with
the Phillies,” McDonnell recalled. “I couldn't wait. There was a
jersey, No. 45. We didn't have names on the back in those days.
If someone wanted to hit in the morning, at noon or at night,
I'd be there ready to throw."
McDonnell was soon a member of the Phillies coaching staff and was with the Whizz Kids when they beat the Dodgers to clinch the National League pennant on the last day of the season. McDonnell said his greatest thrill was pitching two innings for the Phillies in an exhibition game.
He stayed with the club until 1966, when he left to be a
"goodwill ambassador" for Ballantine beer and head baseball
In 1973, he was enticed back to the
Phillies organization joining the Community Relations
Department, working as a camp instructor, stadium tour guide,
and community relations speaker. He eventually retired in 2009.
"All my life I only wanted to be a Phillie," he recently
recalled. "I never worked a day in my life. It's been beautiful,
the greatest life a man could know. I may have not made a lot of
money, but what I experienced is worth a fortune."
McDonnell was inducted into the Villanova Hall of Fame, the Northeast High School Hall of Fame, the Philadelphia Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, and the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame. He was awarded the Richie Ashburn Special Achievement Award in 2002, presented each year to a member of the Phillies organization who demonstrates the same loyalty, dedication and passion for the game as the award's namesake.
Created June 4, 2006. Updated July 9, 2010.
Copyright © 2010 Gary Bedingfield (Baseball in Wartime). All Rights Reserved.