Joe DiMaggio - Baseball Legend Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Joe DiMaggio - Baseball Legend

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An Introduction to the Legends of Baseball | Hank Aaron | Yogi Berra | Ty Cobb | Joe DiMaggio
Lou Gehrig | Rogers Hornsby | Mickey Mantle | Willie Mays | Stan Musial | Cal Ripken Jr
Jackie Robinson | Pete Rose | Babe Ruth | Ted Williams | Cy Young | The Baseball Hall of Fame

Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
Song 'Mrs. Robinson' by Simon and Garfunkel.

Joe DiMaggio was one of the greatest sluggers in baseball, as well as being one of the great fielders. His fielding abilities were overshadowed by his hitting, but he was truly a generally good player. A hit to DiMaggio's center field almost guaranteed that the hitter was out. In his 13 seasons with the New York Yankees, DiMaggio helped lead them to ten Pennants and nine World Championships. Most players on the Yankees during his time there considered him a leader. He was gruff and quiet, but generally a very nice man who did everything he could for his team.

Over time, Joe adopted two nicknames. One was the 'Yankee Clipper', which he ended up naming his boat later in life. His second nickname was 'Joltin' Joe'. Joe spent his entire career with the Yankees, a loyalty which was not entirely common for most players.

DiMaggio's career was fully honoured. He won three MVP awards, was voted onto the All Stars Game all 13 seasons he played, only lost one out of ten World Series and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

His Life and Career

Giuseppe Paolo DiMaggio Jr was born on 25 November, 1914 in Martinez, California. He lived a Sicilian immigrant's life in California, his family being pretty poor and without privilege. He had to leave high school after his first year to work, but all the while, his major passion was for baseball. He joined the Pacific Coast League's San Francisco Seals baseball team in 1933.

In the minor leagues, DiMaggio did very well, and once hit in 61 consecutive games. Many major league teams looked at him as a possible prospect, but an injury in 1934 prevented them from signing him. Finally, the New York Yankees bought out his contract from the Seals in late 1934. He played one more season in the minors, as his contract dictated. His 1935 season in San Francisco was absolutely brilliant. He hit a .398 batting average, made 270 hits and had an impressive RBI of 154.

Major Leagues

He finally joined the Yankees in 1936. Again, an injury kept him out of play early on, but he debuted on May 3, 1936 before thousands of immigrants waving the Italian flag. He had three hits and scored three runs in his first Major League game.

His rookie season was the stuff of legend. He arrived in time to play on the same field as Lou Gehrig, and they formed a strong lineup. He was put in right field for a few months before being moved to center field where he soon gained a reputation as an outstanding outfielder. He batted a .323 average, 126 RBI and 29 home runs. This year, the Yankees would win the World Series, not least because of DiMaggio's power.

In his second season, 1937 he hit 46 home runs (the most he would ever hit in a season), 151 RBI and a .346 batting average. He hit .324 in 1938 and .381 in 1939. In 1939, he was the National League's best hitter and was given the Most Valuable Player award. At one point in that season, he was hitting an impressive .412 average, but suffered an eye problem and his average dropped dramatically to the still impressive .381.

In 1941, DiMaggio won his second American League MVP award1. This was the year when he had his incredible hitting streak that lasted 56 games - a major league record that may possibly never be broken. It started on 15 May, and ended on 17 July, because of two great plays by a Cleveland outfielder2. During the streak, the country was fascinated by DiMaggio. Almost every American checked the papers to see if he had kept his amazing streak going.

In 1942, DiMaggio's average slowed down, and he joined the Army to fight in World War II3. DiMaggio spent most of his service playing baseball for the troops in the Pacific and the US.

He spent about three years in the service, returning in early 1946. The 1946 season was somewhat less than impressive for him, only batting to a .290 average. This year as well, DiMaggio and a rival of his, Ted Williams were almost traded to each others teams4 in what would have been one of the most monumental trades ever. The trade was prevented because of an injury DiMaggio had to his foot though.

He bounced back the following year, hitting .315 and twenty home runs, receiving his third Most Valuable Player award.

In 1948, he led the league with 155 RBI and 39 homers. That year, he also became the first player in baseball to receive 100,000 dollars a year. However, he was injured this season quite badly. The pain would continue for several years. From 1949 to 1951, DiMaggio slipped a bit. By 1950, he hit a .301 average, 122 RBI and 32 homers. When he hit a career low in 1951 with an average of .263, he decided to retire.

He could possibly have had a few more great years of baseball left in him, and could have won even more titles. But DiMaggio felt that he was past his prime at the age of 37, and stepped aside to let Mickey Mantle take his place as the king of Yankee baseball. It wasn't his style to wait until he was definitely done with baseball. He wanted to go out with dignity, and this he did.


For several years after his retirement, DiMaggio endorsed products for commercials including the Mr Coffee Maker. Some people think that this is when he really hit a low and sold out.

After divorce from his first wife, actress Dorothy Arnold, DiMaggio began dating Hollywood Actress Marilyn Monroe. In January 1954, DiMaggio married Monroe. Almost immediately, DiMaggio became a well recognised figure to almost everyone. He was envied by millions of men throughout the world, but they divorced in October that year.

He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1955. In 1969, DiMaggio was voted the greatest living baseball player. He died of lung cancer 8 March, 1999. DiMaggio lived the American Dream. He was an incredibly successful baseball player, married to a famous movie star and besides that he was an American icon.

Career Hitting Statistics

GamesAt-Bats HitsDoublesTriplesHome Runs Runs RBIBatting AverageStolen Bases
 1,736  6,8212,214    389   131      3611,3901,537        .325       892

1There is some dispute over whether DiMaggio really earned this award over Ted Williams. It was arguably Williams' best season, but his problems with the media delivered the honour to DiMaggio.2After it ended he continued a 17 game hitting streak, which means that he would have achieved a 74 game streak if he had hit safely in the 17 July game.3There is a legend that in the battlefields, Japanese soldiers were yelling insults at Americans. They hoped attacking American culture would insult the Americans, so they yelled insults about a beloved American icon - Joe DiMaggio.4Probably because of his numerous battles over salary with the Yankee organisation.

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