The Baseball Posts: Toronto's Donkey Baseball Days by Adam Bunch

Okay, so I haven't actually been able to find much information about this, but according to what I've pieced together from the internet and my dad's memory, it was an American promoter who first came up with the idea of donkey baseball. He figured people would be willing to pay to see baseball played on donkeyback—which of course they were. The  regular old non-donkey-riding pitcher would throw to the batter, who, once he'd gotten a hit, would clamber up onto his steed and do his best to coax it around the bases. Meanwhile, fielders would try to goad their own donkeys into going after the ball.

The promoter and his team toured around  North America challenging local baseball squads to mount up. It became quite the fad; people started organizing their own games, there was even a movie made about it. And when they came through T.O., they'd head  down to a diamond in New Toronto—by the lakeshore in Etobicoke—right across from the Goodyear plant where my grandfather worked. He and the rest of the company's softball team would cross the street, pair up with a donkey and play a few frustrating innings.


You can read more about one old game of donkey baseball in this Sports Illustrated article. And apparently people still play the game from time to today. There's YouTube video of it here and here, which really seems a lot less fun when you think of it from the donkey's perspective. There are also those who also play donkey basketball. It has its own Wikipedia page and denunciations from PETA and everything.

Adam Bunch is the Editor-in-Chief of the Little Red Umbrella and the creator of the Toronto Dreams Project. You can read his posts here, follow him on Twitter here, or email him at

This post originally appeared on the Toronto Dreams Project Historical Ephemera Blog, which tells stories about the history of Toronto. You can read more highlights from it here, or visit it yourself here.


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