Steamship Vancouver Explosion

On November 3, 1938, before the US entered WWII, the German-flagged steamship Vancouver was in SF Bay to pick up cargo and passengers. As it was leaving port, an explosion near the engine room blew a large hole in the side and the ship sank in the estuary. It was immediately labeled suspicious, and authorities began an investigation. This made front page news in the Oakland Tribune, and was covered by newspapers all over the world. So it’s not surprising that Herman headed over to the Oakland estuary the next day to take some movies. Read more about the mysterious explosion on the Oakland Wiki here.

1936 exhibition baseball at Oaks Stadium

When I first found this footage, I quickly recognized Oaks Stadium in Emeryville. I was a bit confused, because it appeared to be a game between the Oakland Oaks (minor league) and the then-New York Giants (major league), which would only make sense if it was an exhibition game. I searched in archives of the Oakland Tribune but couldn’t find a mention of the game.

I posted the clip and what I knew on the Oakland History group on Facebook, and someone spotted a San Francisco Seals jersey, and someone else spotted Joe DiMaggio (then with the New York Yankees). Armed with the additional clues, I found articles about the game.

On October 25, 1936, the All-Star Majors and All-Star Minors (Pacific Coast League) played an exhibition game, as a fundraiser for the Alameda Elks club. Besides Joe DiMaggio, other players of note include Ernie Raimondi (McClymonds High School; Cincinnati Reds), Tony Lazzeri (San Francisco; New York Yankees), Dick Bartell (Alameda High School; New York Giants) and “Cookie” Lavagetto (Oakland; Pittsburgh Pirates, Brooklyn Dodgers). Also briefly visible is Lefty O’Doul (then manager of the San Francisco Seals). See the full box score with the lineups below.

Toddy graduates from UC Berkeley 1939

After I donated the films, I had seen a bit of footage that Rick Prelinger had used for the latest “Lost Landscapes of San Francisco” and knew some of the potential topics based on Herman’s notes, but it took a while before I got access to the scanned films in general.

The first one that made my jaw drop was finding footage of my aunt Toddy graduating from UC Berkeley. In 1939, when not that many women got degrees. And including footage of my paternal grandparents, Carl and Paula (with Paula smiling, no less!). And footage of my uncle Jim (smiling, but that was much less surprising). But the real stunner for me was footage of my dad. He’s quite a bit younger than Toddy and Jim, but there he is, plain as day, about age 5.

Anyway, here’s the film clip:

The original footage includes a lot more of the walking up and around the stage (and those amazing temporary trees in the middle of Memorial Stadium!), but I’d like to know who those people were beginning about 9 seconds into the clip.