Memories of Long Ago
by Carroll Canfield
St. Mary's College, Class of 1950
Webmasters note: This piece was originally written
by Carroll Canfield as a letter to Mrs. Carol Wedemeyer, the
widow of the late Herman Wedemeyer. It is reproduced here by
permission. Mr. Canfield is a 1950 St. Marys graduate,
teammate of Herman Wedemeyers, and member of the St. Marys
Hall of Fame for his own exploits on the baseball diamond.
The recent death of your dear husband Herman prompted my memory
to issue visions of a time in my life that is monumental.
When you and Wedey visited our home in Sacramento recently
as our guests it was a renewal of a friendship with Herm that
actually began before we had ever met personally.
The fall of 1945, when I was a senior in high school at Grant
in Sacramento, St. Marys College, with grand local publicity,
came to our city with a full house and was challenged by McClellan
Air Force Bases powerful football team.
Wedemeyer and the Galloping Gaels, or better known as the
Whiz Kids as newsprint exclaimed humbled our local team as the
score mounted to a lopsided total of St. Marys 58 and McClellan
0. Wedemeyer was heralded the following day in the press and
he immediately became a hero to me as had Joe DiMaggio before
The following September 1946 I was honored to enter St. Marys
on a baseball scholarship as a 17 year old pitcher. I did not
know there would be 87 players out for the baseball team in the
spring of 47 and that 27 pitchers and Wedey would be a
part of the baseball group led by famous ex New York Giant baseball
great Coach Johnny Vergez.
But, before the baseball season Ill never forget the
draw to my athletic heart. St. Marys earned an invite to
the Oil Bowl in Houston, Texas and Georgia Tech was the opponent.
Sacramento friend and college mate, Bob Carlson, and I left soon
after Christmas 1946 and drove our model B Ford all the miles
to Texas in the dead of winter. Arriving in Houston and becoming
part of the festivities taught me that a Gael from St. Marys
was seen as a special person and the parties and hoopla prior
to the New Years Day game was a thrill to the team as it was
to the two young boys from Sacramento. St. Marys lost,
but what a memory to recall after all the years.
Later in the spring of 47 and after the football pads
were stored away at the college the baseball team was chosen
and soon challenged all local town teams, semi pro clubs and
colleges. Our baseball complex on campus was so active and we
also trekked away from our home field. The team traveled in style
within the red and blue painted bus with "St. Marys
College" boldly imprinted on either side of our vehicle.
We boys sang songs and greeted fans along the way as we were
called the "Singing Saints." We were also a good team!
I recall pitching that freshman year with great relishI
had a 5 win no loss season as Wedey cavorted centerfield and
drove in the runs. I watched Wedey with awe. He was my hero now
in person. We became lasting friends my first baseball season
at St. Marys.
Playing Stanford, California, USC, UCLA, and Santa Clara made
our league one of the tops in the USA and baseball scouts followed
our team wherever we traveled. Scouts were interested in Wedey
and others of us who had built some reputations.
So it went that first season for me and baseball was not our
total life. Bob Hope came to St. Marys to present his national
radio broadcast over NBC from our old gyma packed housestanding
room only, April 16, 1948.
Tony Martin, Alumnus of St. Marys and Hollywood movie
singing star led us in "The Bells of St. Marys"
at the Cal Bear-St. Marys football game at Cal Memorial
Joe E. Brown, the Hollywood movie star and other notables
followed our talented team because of Wedey and their friend
and our coach Johnny Vergez.
Our team also traveled in style as we went by train to Los
Angeles and other cities. We were always housed at the finest
hotels such as the Knickerbocher in Los Angeles as we played
USC or in Hollywood as the guest team of UCLA.
The year USC were National Champions, when I was a sophomore,
we whipped them at Wrigley Field as Wedey and Bill Van Heiut
hit back to back four baggers over the center field wall, quite
a feat. We came back to our campus and were heaped with praise
from the student body and our teachers the Christian Brothers.
Brother Jerome, Wedeys economics teacher was especially
pleased to greet us.
Carol, traveling to Sacramento to play the North Sacramento
Merchants is another fond memory. My high school coach, Ray Desimone
was the opponent manager coach. He had played at St. Marys
as a second base star and our game prompted a standing room only
crowd of fans totaling 4,000 in the stadium built to hold 2,500.
What a crowd that night and the city buzzed that the famous Wedey
and "his team" would come to our town for an exhibition
baseball game. Besides news articles, there were even before
and after game pictures of Wedey at bat and we locals on the
In the junior dormitory at St. Marys, teammate Al Silva
from Woodland and I were treated to a new roommateHerman
Wedemeyer. When he was on campus the three of us shared our dorm
room and had grand nights sharing stories of our youthful games
and our childhoodswhere we were born, our family history
and more especially interesting to Al and me was all the great
and romantic stories of the Hawaiian Islands and Honolulu. Wedey
would spell out verbally wonderful pictures of hula dancers,
days on the surfer waves of his athletic exploits with friends
from far away.
As life goes, it is fitting that my friend became a mainstay
on Hawaii Five-O for the 12 years that the TV program
was aired to the mainland and beyond. To see Wedey as Duke all
those years, reminded me of his place in centerfield for St.
Marys with his graceful manner.
We were young, but the speed, agility, strong arm, fast legs,
great eyesight and sense of the game in progress made my friend
a star in more than the sport of football. Actually, baseball
was the sport also in which Wedey excelled magnificently.
So, it is that 54 years has passed since I first viewed Herman
Wedemeyer, the famous footballer as number 11. He shined at Hughes
Stadium in Sacramento.
My wife, Carole and I traveled to the islands and were your
guests for dinner at Wailea Country Club. You were wonderful
to us and the floral lei presented is another memory which adds
to the love for Carol and Herman Wedemeyer
I present to you this short message of a long and glorious
past and my memory of a dear and special friend, Herman Wedemeyer,
St. Marys hall of famefootball and baseball!An
My games of golf at Olympic club in San Francisco and other
sites with Herman are cherished! How fitting that your grandson,
Tucker, is now at St. Marys playing well for the Gael golf
Our love to you and God Bless you and your family Carol.
SMC Hall of Fame, Baseball 1976
and Carole too.