Note: This page is for 1950s minor league pitcher Bill O'Donnell; for the long-time Baltimore Orioles broadcaster, click here.
William Joseph O'Donnell
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 4", Weight 175 lb.
Bill O'Donnell started his professional baseball career in 1953 with the Oshkosh Giants of the Wisconsin State League. He was 18 years old and part of the New York Giants farm system, having been signed to a AA contract with the Nashville Vols of the Southern Association. He was a right-handed pitcher and had a record that year of 14-11 with Oshkosh. This tied for the most wins on the team. As an 18-year-old, he stood 6' 4" and weighed 175 pounds. His best pitches were a slightly sinking fastball and a fairly good curve ball. He had pretty good control of his pitches for a youngster. His manager was Dave Garcia, who also played second base. This was a class D league of good quality.
The next season, 1954, he moved up in classification to C ball with the St. Cloud Rox (Minnesota) of the Northern League. The manager there was Charlie Fox, who also shared catching duties on the team. His record was 12-9. Willie Kirkland, outfielder, was on the team and later made the big leagues with the San Francisco Giants. In addition, one of the lefthanded pitchers on the team, John Fitzgerald, also pitched very briefly for the big league Giants. Manager Fox later managed the San Francisco Giants.
Still under contract to the Nashville Vols, O'Donnell became part of the Cincinnati Reds organization when Nashville switched affiliation from the Giants to the Reds in 1955. He was assigned to the Rock Hill Chiefs (S.C.) of the Class B Tri-State League. His record that year was 11-7. In addition, he was married in February 1955.
He was not in military service from 1956-1957. Instead, because he had married in February 1955 and had his first baby in March 1956, he did not go to spring training because his son was born during the time he would have been heading to camp. He had his second child in June 1957. So he was out of baseball until he tried a comeback in 1958 with the Fox Cities Foxes, based in Appleton, WI, a Class B team conveniently located a relatively short distance from his home in Oshkosh. However he was released by the club after about 5 weeks that year, and never returned to professional baseball. He went 1-0 in 4 games for the club. The Foxes manager was Pete Suder, a former major leaguer with the Philadelphia Athletics.
Bill's ERA was 3.90 for Oshkosh in 1953, 3.82 for St. Cloud in 1954 and 4.85 for Rock Hill in 1955.
While he was active in 1953, a William Joseph O'Donnell played for the Mayfield Clothiers, also a Giants farm team, but this was a different person. That O'Donnell was 2 for 20 with 7 strikeouts as a right-handed hitter in 11 games. He did not play 10 games at any position that year and did not pitch 45 innings, making him a mystery man unknown to both this O'Donnell and Pat Doyle's database, which identifies them incorrectly as the same person.