My dad played several seasons in San Diego with Vince DiMaggio, older brother of Joe, the Yankee star, and Dominic, who played for Boston in later years. Back in the mid-thirties Vince was playing for San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League, and my father was playing in Hollywood before the franchise was transferred to San Diego in 1936.
Dad had an interesting story of how Vince came to leave San Francisco and ended up in San Diego. It seems that one year Vince took younger brother Joe to spring training at the San Francisco camp. The powers that be were so impressed with Joe that they decided to keep him and Vince got sent to Hollywood in 1933.
According to my father Vince could hit the ball as hard as Joe, but every time he hit a home run he tried too hard to hit another and ended up with a string of strikeouts. When he settled down and quit trying so hard, he would hit another homer.
Vince was a good outfielder, and one of the best sun fielders my father ever saw—rarely losing the ball in the sun the way some outfielders did.
An ongoing Monopoly game sat on a table at the Hebert house awaiting whichever visitors ventured over to take up where someone else had left off. Vince loved to play and was a frequent participant as was teammate Ed Wells. Sometimes the game would go on well into the night.
“Don’t ask Vince to sing,” Ed would tell the wives. Vince had an operatic voice and sang loud, long, and high. Ed was afraid the neighbors would start complaining when the soaring tenor notes started wafting through their windows.
Someone wrote a song about Joe when he played for the Yankees. Vince would sing it for the team, but he used his name instead.
My father was also acquainted with the elder DiMaggios, who lived in the San Francisco area back then. Occasionally the San Diego team would be invited to a meal in the DiMaggio home.
An old-timers baseball game was being played in Houston many after they had all left baseball. One of the players was DiMaggio, the Yankee Clipper. My dad was able to attend the game and made his way to the dugout area. Joe recognized him at once.
“Well hello, Wally. It’s been a while.”
Mary Helen Whiteard says
Interesting story about the DiMaggios and Preacher Hebert.