Joe Marty and Myril Hoag


As historian Alan O’Connor has noted, Bill Conlin (while sports editor for the Sacramento Bee in 1994) wrote “(Joe) Marty was so fleet afoot and so defensively skilled that he played center field on this San Francisco Seals team of 1935, forcing DiMag (DiMaggio) into right field.” Conlin asserted that the Seals’ outfield of manager “Lefty” O’Doul in left, Marty in center and DiMaggio in right field may have been the greatest outfield in Pacific Coast League history, O’Connor noted. 

 Marty Joe
Joe Marty, Sacramento Solons

After hitting .398 that season, the Seals sold DiMaggio to the New York Yankees where he began a legendary Hall of Fame career in 1936. Meantime, Marty—the pride of Christian Brothers High—took up the hitting mantle, posting a .359 batting average, best in the PCL that year. 

Which leads us to the other individual from local sandlots who affected the Yankee Clipper’s career. 

Two weeks after the 1936 All-Star game the Yankees were playing in Detroit. On that afternoon, DiMaggio was playing right field, while former Sacramento Senators’ Myril Hoag was covering center for the Yankees. The Tigers’ Goose Goslin smashed a ball into the right center field gap. The outfielders gave chase with unbridled speed and collided head-to-head. Both went down as if hit by gunshot. Eventually, they rose to finish the game won by the Yanks. 

The following day, both outfielders played their positions. But the next morning—two days after the collision—Hoag didn’t report for duty and was found unconscious in his hotel room. He was rushed to Detroit’s Harper Hospital where surgeons performed a dicey operation by drilling three holes in Hoag’s skull to relieve the pressure. While Hoag recovered from surgery, the Yankees continued on to Cleveland, where they learned that their outfielder would survive, but was finished for the season. 

Yankees’ manager Joe McCarthy then moved DiMaggio to center field, where he remained until his retirement in 1951. McCarthy told writer Maury Allen that he’d had that position in mind all along for DiMaggio. “Once he got out there, he stayed out there. He did everything so easily,” the manager told Allen. 

Hoag, Myril

In a small way, DiMaggio had Hoag--and his unfortunate head injury--to thank for it. And Marty’s strong play for the Seals, which moved him to right field in the first place. In his first big league season, Joe DiMaggio hit .323/29/125. 

In 1938, Hoag faced Marty in the 1938 World Series, pitting the Yankees (in their remarkable run of four consecutive championships—1936-1939) against the Chicago Cubs, featuring two other local area ballplayers: Stan Hack (Sacramento High) and Frank Demaree (Winters High). 

One final note: it has often been misreported that Hoag played on three world’s championship teams during his time with the Yankees: 1932, 1937 and 1938. In fact, despite playing in only 46 games in 1936 and missing the Fall Classic, the Yankees voted Hoag a full share at the end of the season. Which meant the Davis, Calif.-native* played on four World Series Championship teams, more than any other major leaguer from the Sacramento area. 

(Credit to O'Connor's book Gold on the Diamond, and Richard Cramer’s book The Hero’s Life, a biography of Joe DiMaggio.) 

*Local historian Tom Crisp, who has written bios of such Yolo County luminaries as Frank Demaree of Winters, notes that Hoag played his senior year in high school for Willows, north of Sacramento.


Uploaded 03/01/2012
Updated 03/06/

All contents © Rick Cabral, 2012