SAGINAW COUNTY SPORTS HALL OF FAME

JOE MCDONALD

CLASS OF 2011



                         Joe McDonald earned two letters in baseball

and three letters in football while at St. Andrew's High School

and as a 16-year-old he set the city's 40-yard backstroke

record of 28.1. But McDonald is widely known for his speed

skating abilities. He took up the sport in 1933, competing in

locally-run meets at Hoyt Park. In 1937 he won the 220, 440,

880, mile and two-mile races. A year later at the Western

Michigan meet in Grand Ledge, he won all four races in his

class. In '39 he won championships at Western Michigan,
Saginaw Valley, Central Michigan, Wayne County, Wyandotte
​ Invitational, Northville and the Michigan Indoor Speed Skating. He eventually won the North American ½-mile, ¾-mile and one-mile races at Lake Placid in 1939, and his ½-mile time of 1:16 was a World Record which still stands. McDonald won the Gold Skates title at the Detroit Gold-Silver Skates Derby on Belle Isle – the first time a non-Detroiter won the event. He was in contention for the United States Olympic team but World War II halted those hopes.He coached the Saginaw Transfer speed skating team from 1956-1960, earning state and national championships along the way. McDonald, competing in the 70-79 age bracket, won the 300, 800, 1,000, 1,500, 3,000 and 5,000-meter races at the Masters International Open in Quebec, Canada, in 1995. He also notched first placed finishes in 1997 (Berlin, Germany), 2000 (East Germany), 2001 (Italy), 2002 (Hamar, Norway) where he set four records, 2003 (East Germany) and 2005 (Quebec, Canada). In 2006 he set four World records at the 15th Masters International Speed Skating Games in Helsinki, Finland. He set world marks in the 500-meter (1:09), 1,000-meter (2:25.8), 1,500-meter (3:51.40) and 3,000-meter (8:03.1) races at the age of 85.