St. Mary’s Cemetery, the historic cemetery featured in the last edition of this publication, is the resting place of many notable people.
Among those interred on the grounds of this cemetery, which is located at 6700 21st Ave., at the 65th Street Expressway, are the Sacramento Solons baseball greats Tony Freitas and Joe Marty.
The 5-foot, 8-inch-tall, left-handed pitcher Antonio “Tony” Freitas, Jr. (1908-1994) was undoubtedly one of the most renowned Sacramento Solons players.
His clutch performances in the Solons’ drive to winning their only pennant in 1942 were sufficient enough to earn him legendary status in the capital city.
Freitas made his professional baseball debut in 1928 with the Class D Phoenix Senators in the Arizona State League.
During the 1929 season, Freitas became a member of the Sacramento Senators, the predecessor of the Solons.
While playing for two major league teams during the 1930s, Freitas compiled a won-loss record of 25-33.
He is recognized as the all-time winningest left-handed pitcher in minor league history.
Freitas, who won at least 20 games in nine different seasons, was inducted into the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame and the Sacramento Athletic Hall of Fame, was named a member of the Pacific Coast League All-Century Team and was selected by the Society of American Baseball Research as the all-time best minor league pitcher.
Freitas returned to Sacramento and worked as a non-playing manager for the Solons in 1954 and 1955. He compiled a 282-win and 344-loss managerial record in 627 games.
A Sacramento native and a product of Christian Brothers High School’s sports program during the late 1920s and early 1930s, Marty was born Joseph Anton Marty on Sept. 1, 1913. He received a three-sport scholarship in baseball, football and basketball from St. Mary’s College of California, where he studied and played sports in 1932 and 1933.
In 1934, the San Francisco Seals, a Double-A minor league baseball team of the Pacific Coast League, acquired the rights to the then-20-year-old Marty.
Marty’s third season with the Seals was so successful that he attracted the attention of major league teams through such statistics as a league best .359 batting average, 215 hits and 17 home runs.
His five seasons in the majors included World Series appearances, one of which occurred in an Oct. 8, 1938 game, in which he became the first Sacramento native to hit a home run in a World Series game.
Marty also enjoyed success as a Solons player for seven seasons, including the 1950 season when he held the role of player-manager.
As a businessman, Marty, who passed away on Oct. 4, 1984, operated his bar, Joe Marty’s, at 15th Street and Broadway in Land Park.
Another notable former athlete to be interred at St. Mary’s was Max Baer (1909-1959).
Born Maximillian Adelbert Baer, the Ancil Hoffman-managed Baer, who fought in 84 professional fights, was not only a capital city boxing legend, but he was also inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1968, the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1984 and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1995.
Baer, who first trained in a gym on his father’s ranch, fought his first professional match at the Oak Park Arena in Stockton on May 16, 1929, when he knocked out Chief Caribou in the second round.
Although Baer, who was known for his charismatic personality and hard-hitting punches, had many great moments in his boxing career, his greatest achievement came on June 14, 1934, when he knocked out Primo Carnera at Madison Square Garden in New York to become the heavyweight champion of the world.
One of the fights that Baer is most known for is his June 13, 1935, 15-round defeat against James J. Braddock. The match is celebrated in the 2005 film, “Cinderella Man.”
More than a decade following his 1941 retirement from professional boxing, Baer described his Jack Dempsey-like approach to the sport during a Sacramento boxing party held at Christian Brothers High School.
Baer was quoted in The Sacramento Bee as telling attendees of the event that his favorite target was an opponent’s chin.
“Boxers are always looking for an advantage and try to slip over a quick punch in the early rounds,” Baer said. “When a boxer is cold during the first or second rounds, a punch to the jaw will do a lot of damage.”
Earl D. Desmond
A Sacramento native, Desmond, who was born on Aug. 26, 1895, attended Christian Brothers and Sacramento high schools.
While attending Santa Clara University, Desmond left the school to join the Navy during World War I.
Following the war, he worked as an agent for the Florin Fruit Exchange in the old town of Florin, and later operated a 2,000-acre ranch eight miles south of the town of Franklin.
Desmond, who married Sacramento native Edna Nicolaus in 1920, attended and graduated from the McGeorge College of Law (later renamed McGeorge School of Law). He was admitted to the bar in 1931.
Eventually, Desmond became the senior member of the law firm, Desmond, Miller and Artz.
He was elected to the California Assembly in 1934 to represent the 9th district.
A decade later, he was elected to the Senate. He was reelected in 1948, 1952 and 1956.
He also served as chairman of an interim committee on water projects. The committee’s activities included taking a role in the controversial north-south water issue.
Desmond, who many people have referred to as the “Father of Sac State,” authored the successful bill to bring a four-year college to the capital city.
Gov. Earl Warren signed this bill – Senate Bill 1221 – on July 1, 1947.
He was also involved in the efforts to relocate the State Fair from a site on Stockton Boulevard to its current Cal Expo site.
Additionally, Desmond served as the secretary of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, an elementary school and high school trustee, a member of the Native Sons of the Golden West, Elks Lodge No. 6, the Knights of Columbus and the Loyal Order of Moose.
Desmond, who had six children, was also past state president of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, past president of Sacramento Aerie No. 9 of the Eagles and past commander of American Legion Post No. 61.
Desmond passed away in his home at 5232 Marione Drive in Carmichael on May 25, 1958, a day after he had assisted in a fundraising drive for a proposed Catholic seminary in Galt.
In commenting about Desmond following the senator’s death, Gov. Goodwin J. Knight said, “California has lost one of its outstanding legislators in the passing of Earl D. Desmond. He gave unstintingly of his energies for the benefit of his state and community, and many of our most important statutes and programs today were the product of his sponsorship. He will be sorely missed by his colleagues and constituents alike.”