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Donkey Baseball in Marblehead?

This week, we set out to answer a question sent in by one of our readers who wanted to clear up a memory from her childhood.

Every week we answer a question submitted by one of our readers as part of our column.

This week, a local woman wrote in with a question about the unusual "Donkey Baseball Games" that she could clearly remember being held at during her childhood.

She wrote: "In the 40's I remember attending several donkey baseball games. They were so much fun to watch. When the batter hit the ball he would then try to jump on the back of a donkey and get to 1st base or even 2nd if the hit was long enough. It may have been put on by our Fire Department but I was "so young" I don't remember the details. I was wondering if anyone could add any - Thanks, Sheila"

Our search for answers began at the , where curator Karen Mac Innis suggested we speak with local sports legend and historian Esso Haines, who not only attended donkey baseball games at Seaside Park, but said he could remember being thrown from a donkey on the way to first base.

Haines, 81, of Curtis Street, said he and former police Capt. Dick Fullerton were among the players bucked by a donkey during a local donkey baseball game, events which were commonly held to raise money in the 1940's.

"A bunch of people had donkeys back then and they used to come around and use them to hold fundraisers, it was really a great time," Haines said. "That was back when Marblehead was the kind of community where if there was a need, people would show up to these fundraisers and donate money."

The donkey baseball games Haines remembered were fundraisers for The Headers, Marblehead's semi-pro baseball team, which often needed to raise money to rent lights for night games at Seaside.

"In those days it was seen as a fun way to raise money and donkey baseball games were being held all across the North Shore," Haines said. "You could expect 3 or 4 thousand people would show up."

Fundraising through donkey sporting events wasn't limited to the diamond, Haines said, adding that he could remember donkey basketball games, when the animals would be allowed on the court at the former high school.

"It was all about just watching people try to get on the thing," Haines said. "It wasn't about keeping score or anything, it was all about having a good time and everyone went away happy."

If you have a question for us, not matter how strange it may seem, let us know and we'll try to find the answers.

Sheila McCredy March 16, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Owen, Thank you for following up on my question about Donkey Baseball. A big Thank You to Esso for such a great write-up. I'm still smiling. Sheila M.
Karen Mac Innis March 23, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Owen, Another great story! Thanks also to Sheila for asking the question, you for calling us, Cinny Rockett for getting Esso's telephone number and a big thanks to Esso for his memories. I frequently say that it's not important to know all of the answers, it's important to know where to go to get the answers. Karen Mac

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