and Myril Hoag
PLAYED A ROLE IN THE EARLY
CAREER OF JOE DIMAGGIO
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.
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
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
(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.