James Leslie “Fiddler” MacDonald, a Peakes Station native and later Charlottetown resident, was involved in several sports, including baseball, football, basketball, hockey and track and field. He is best known for his abilities in baseball, which he began playing in the 1930s and has earned him his place in the P.E.I. Sports Hall of Fame.
Born August 10, 1912, Fiddler MacDonald began playing ball as a thirteen-year-old in public school at Peakes, and continued this participation throughout high school and university career at St. Dunstan’s in Charlottetown. During his college years, he was the equivalent of the modern day “four-letter man,” excelling in track & field, hockey, basketball and football. He established records for hop, step & jump, broad jump and the baseball throw in 1936.
Fiddler took part in many “sandlot baseball games” during those college years; however, it was upon the formation of the Kings County Baseball League in 1935 that Fiddler began his career in earnest, leading the Peakes Bombers to their first of many Championship titles. Fiddler became a living legend in the Island baseball community when, on July 13th, 1936, he struck out 25 batters for Peakes in a game against the Charlottetown Dodgers (the number originally recorded was 24, but this was later corrected). With this feat, he established a Provincial and Maritime record for most strikeouts in a nine-inning contest. The Charlottetown players were said to be completely at the mercy of Fiddler’s fast-ball and sweeping hooks. Peakes won the game 7-2 – Fiddler had only allowed two hits. He was soon picked up by the Amherst St. Pats of the Nova Scotia-Southern New Brunswick baseball league and, needless to say, was an instant success. Fiddler posted a 14-2 record with Amherst in 1937 and was named the league’s Most Valuable Player. His team lost out to the Springhill Fence Busters in the playoffs, with Fiddler pitching all seven games, played in a nine day stretch.
He was with Amherst again in 1938, posting a 15-2 won-loss record, and in 1939 he became a soldier in World War II. He was wounded in Germany in 1944 and his injuries prevented him from active baseball participation until 1952.
In 1953 Fiddler MacDonald was with the M.C.A. Flyers in a relief pitching role, and in 1954 he took over as Flyers coach. In 1956, he coached the Charlottetown Abbies to the Maritime Intermediate Championship, and then coached in the City League until it folded in 1962. From there, Fiddler turned to helping the Junior teams, and he coached and managed Charlottetown Junior Clubs through the season of 1972.
When inducted in 1976, the 64-year-old could field his own family team as the father of thirteen children. Many of Fiddler’s offspring have become famous names in Island sport, carrying on their father’s legacy.
James “Fiddler” MacDonald passed away in Charlottetown on January 6th, 1996. Today, he is still widely regarded as one of the best pitchers P.E.I. has ever produced, and had it not been for wartime injuries, he would likely have been able to pursue a professional career in the sport. An annual baseball tournament for mosquito AAA teams was established in his honour in Charlottetown in 2005.
Updated: July 2009
Updated: October 2015
File Contains: induction file including citation, photos, detailed resume from son Ian MacDonald, composites, some articles. On display is a trophy.