Seals' Notable Players
The Seals had many famous players over the years of their existence. From Joe DiMaggio who hit safely in 61 games in 1933, to his two brothers Vince and Dom, to Larry Jansen who won 30 games in 1946, and to Lefty O'Doul, who was not only a good pitcher and great hitter with the Seals but also later became their manager for 17 seasons. This is a look back at some of the more notable Seals' players.
The DiMaggio Brothers in 1956.
Earl Averill - A Seals' outfielder from 1926-1929. He was part (along with Smead Jolley and Gene Valia) of one of the greatest minor league outfields of all-time. He later had a Hall of Fame career with Cleveland.
Gene Brocker - A Seals' catcher in 1949. He traveled to Japan after that season for the 1949 Goodwill Tour, as part of the first US team to visit Japan after World War II.
Frank Crosetti - A Seals' infielder in 1930 who batted .334 and later played for the Yankees.
Cornelius "Con" Dempsey - A Seals pitcher from 1948-1951. He led the PCL in strikeouts in his rookie season with 171 while going 16-11 with a league-leading ERA of 2.10.
Joe DiMaggio - The "Yankee Clipper" began his professional baseball career with the Seals. He hit safely in 61 games with the Seals in 1933 (and hit.398 for the season), still a professional baseball record. It was said Joe was prouder of that accomplishment than his 56-game streak with the Yankees. He played from 1932 (three games at shortstop as a 17-year-old) to 1935 (PCL MVP that season). His contract had actually been purchased by the Yankees after the 1934 season, but they arranged for him to play one more year for San Francisco. His two brothers, Vince (1946) and Dom (1939, PCL MVP) also played for the Seals. You can learn more about his time with the Seals at When Joe Was a Seal.
Ferris Fain - Played for the Seals in the early 1940s and later went on to play several seasons in the majors.
Lefty Gomez - A pitcher in 1929, Lefty went 18-11 and was sold to the New York Yankees after the season.
Harry Heillman - Played in 98 games in 1915 for the Seals, batting .364. He later played 15 years in the majors, winding up in the Hall of Fame.
Larry Jansen - A 30-game winner for the Seals in 1946 (and set a PCL record for lowest ERA that year) who later played for the New York Giants.
Robert Joyce - Pitched three seasons for the Seals from 1942-1945. He was 30-11 in 1945 and was the PCL MVP that season.
Tony Lazzeri - Played for the Seals in 1941, after a long career with the Yankees.
Dario Lodigiani - Played for the Seals in 1950 and 1951 after stops with Oakland and in the major leagues.
Elmer Orella - A pitcher for the Seals from 1941-1946. He once shutout the Sacramento Solons for ten innings, pitching a two-hitter.
Paul Waner - Later a Hall of Fame outfielder, Paul and his brother Lloyd played for the Seals in the mid 1920s. Paul hit .369 in 1923 and .401 in 1925, leading the team in hitting those two years.
Lefty O' Doul. Lefty started out as a pitcher with the Seals and was an American League pitcher with the Yankees & Red Sox before switching to the outfield. He was not only a good pitcher, but later became a great hitter. When his career as a pitcher ended, he converted to being an outfielder. He hit .378 in 1927 and was named the PCL MVP. In 1929, he batted .398 with the Philadelphia Phillies and set a National League record (which still stands) for most hits (254) in a season. He was very popular with the local fans, as this article about Lefty O'Doul Day in 1938 shows. As his playing career was winding down, he became the Seals' manager, a position he held from 1935 to 1951, occasionally inserting himself into games as a pinch hitter.
Paul Fagan, the Seals owner paid him well to keep him from accepting a job as a major league manager. His last appearance as a pinch hitter was in 1956, at age 59 (and managing the Vancouver Mounties) when he got a single. Lefty also managed San Diego (1952-1954), Oakland/Vancouver (1955 and 1956), and Seattle (1957). When the Giants moved to San Francisco in 1958, they hired Lefty as their hitting coach, a position he held for three seasons.
Lefty did much to promote the game of baseball in Japan, making numerous trips to Japan before and after World War II to promote baseball there. In 2002, he was inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame, one of only four Americans to be enshrined there. After retiring as a manager, Lefty became a spokesperson for the league. In my humble opinion, it's a tragedy he is not in the Hall of Fame. He should be enshrined as an "ambassador of baseball" to Japan, if for no other reason.