Joe DiMaggio

  • 13× All-Star selection (1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951)
  • World Series champion (, , , , , , , , )
  • AL MVP (1939, 1941, 1947)
  • MLB record 56 consecutive games with a base hit
  • New York Yankees #5 retired
  • Major League Baseball All-Century Team
  • Joe DiMaggio

    Center fielder
    Born: November 25, 1914(1914-11-25)
    Martinez, California
    Died: March 8, 1999(1999-03-08) (aged 84)
    Hollywood, Florida
    Batted: Right Threw: Right 
    MLB debut
    May 3, 1936 for the New York Yankees
    Last MLB appearance
    September 30, 1951 for the New York Yankees
    Career statistics
    Batting average     .325
    Hits     2,214
    Home runs     361
    Runs batted in     1,537
    Teams
    • New York Yankees ([[ in baseball|]]–[[ in baseball|]], [[ in baseball|]]–[[ in baseball|]])
    Career highlights and awards
    Member of the National
    Baseball Hall of Fame
    Induction     [[ in baseball|]]
    Vote     88.84% (third ballot: first eligible in 1953)

    Joseph Paul "Joe" DiMaggio (November 25, 1914 – March 8, 1999), nicknamed "Joltin' Joe" and "The Yankee Clipper", was an American Major League Baseball center fielder. He played his entire 13-year baseball career for the New York Yankees. He was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955. He was the middle of three brothers who each became major league center fielders, the others being Vince and Dom.

    DiMaggio was a 3-time MVP winner and 13-time All-Star (the only player to be selected for the All-Star Game in every season he played). In his thirteen year career, the Yankees won ten pennants and nine world championships. At the time of his retirement, he had the fifth-most career home runs (361) and sixth-highest slugging percentage (.579) in history. He is perhaps best known for his 56-game hitting streak (May 15–July 16, 1941), a record that still stands.[1] A 1969 poll conducted to coincide with the centennial of professional baseball voted him the sport's greatest living player.[2]

    Early life

    DiMaggio was born in Martinez, California, the eighth of nine children born to immigrants from Italy, Giuseppe (1872–1949) and Rosalia (Mercurio) DiMaggio (1878–1951). He was delivered by a midwife identified on his birth certificate as Mrs. J. Pico. He was named after his father; "Paolo" was in honor of Giuseppe's favorite saint, Saint Paul. The family moved to San Francisco, California when Joe was one year old.

    Giuseppe was a fisherman, as were generations of DiMaggios before him. DiMaggio's brother, Tom, told biographer Maury Allen that Rosalia's father, also a fisherman, wrote to her that Giuseppe could earn a better living in California than in their native Isola delle Femmine. After being processed on Ellis Island, he worked his way across America, eventually settling near Rosalia's father in Pittsburg, California. After four years, he was able to earn enough money to send for her and their daughter, who was born after he had left for the United States.

    It was Giuseppe's hope that his five sons would become fishermen.[3] DiMaggio recalled that he would do anything to get out of cleaning his father's boat, as the smell of dead fish nauseated him. Giuseppe called him "lazy" and "good for nothing"

    DiMaggio was playing semi-pro ball when older brother Vince DiMaggio, playing for the San Francisco Seals, talked his manager into letting DiMaggio fill in at shortstop; he made his professional debut on October 1, 1932. From May 27 – July 25, 1933, he got at least one hit in a PCL-record 61 consecutive games:[4] "Baseball didn't really get into my blood until I knocked off that hitting streak. Getting a daily hit became more important to me than eating, drinking or sleeping."

    In 1934, his career almost ended. Going to his sister's house for dinner, he tore the ligaments in his left knee while stepping out of a jitney. The Seals, at the time were hoping to sell DiMaggio's contract for $100,000. Scout Bill Essick of the New York Yankees, was convinced the Joe could overcome his knee injury and pestered the club to give DiMaggio another look. After DiMaggio passed a test on his knee, he was bought on November 21 for $25,000 and 5 players, with the Seals keeping him for the 1935 season. He batted .398 with 154 RBIs and 34 HRs, led the Seals to the 1935 PCL title, and was named the League's Most Valuable Player.

    "The Yankee Clipper"

    Joe DiMaggio's number 5 was retired by the New York Yankees in 1952.

    DiMaggio made his major league debut on May 3, 1936, batting ahead of Lou Gehrig. The Yankees had not been to the World Series since 1932, but they won the next four Fall Classics. In total, DiMaggio led the Yankees to nine titles in 13 years.

    Hank Greenberg told SPORT magazine in its September 1949 issue that DiMaggio covered so much ground in center field that the only way to get a hit against the Yankees was "to hit 'em where Joe wasn't." DiMaggio also stole home five times in his career.

    Through May 2009 DiMaggio was tied for third all-time with Mark McGwire in home runs over his first two calendar years in the major leagues (77), behind Phillies Hall of Famer Chuck Klein (83) and Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun (79).[5]

    DiMaggio was nicknamed the "Yankee Clipper" by Yankee's stadium announcer Arch McDonald in 1939 when he likened DiMaggio's speed and range in the outfield to the then new Pan American airliner [6]

    On February 7, 1949, DiMaggio signed a record contract worth $100,000 ($70,000 plus bonuses), and became the first baseball player to break $100,000 in earnings. After a poor 1951 season, a scouting report by the Brooklyn Dodgers that was turned over to the New York Giants and leaked to the press, and various injuries, DiMaggio announced his retirement on December 11, 1951.[7] When remarking on his retirement to the Sporting News on December 19, 1951, he said

    "I feel like I have reached the stage where I can no longer produce for my club, my manager, and my teammates. I had a poor year, but even if I had hit .350, this would have been my last year. I was full of aches and pains and it had become a chore for me to play. When baseball is no longer fun, it's no longer a game, and so, I've played my last game."

    He became eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1953. DiMaggio told Baseball Digest in 1963 that the Brooklyn Dodgers had offered him their managerial job in 1953, but he turned it down. He was not elected to the Hall until 1955; the rules were revised in the interim, with DiMaggio and Ted Lyons excepted, extending the waiting period from one year to five.

    He might have had better power-hitting statistics had his home park not been Yankee Stadium. As "The House That Ruth Built", its nearby right field favored the Babe's left-handed power. For right-handed hitters, its deep left and center fields were almost impossible to get a home run: Mickey Mantle recalled that he and Whitey Ford witnessed many blasts that DiMaggio hit that would have been home runs anywhere else, but, at the Stadium, were merely long outs (Ruth himself fell victim to that problem, as he also hit many long fly outs to center). Bill James calculated that DiMaggio lost more home runs due to his home park than any other player in history. Left-center field went as far back as 457 ft, compared to ballparks today where left-center rarely reaches 380 ft. A perfect illustration of this is the famous Al Gionfriddo's catch in the 1947 World Series, which was close to the 415 foot mark in left-center. Had it happened in the Yankees current ballpark, it would have been well into the seats for a home run. To illustrate, DiMaggio hit 148 home runs in 3,360 at-bats at home, and in contrast, he hit 213 home runs in 3,461 at-bats on the road. His slugging percentage at home was .546, and on the road, it was .610. Expert statistician, Bill Jenkinson, made a statement on these statistics:

    For example, Joe DiMaggio was acutely handicapped by playing at Yankee Stadium. Every time he batted in his home field during his entire career, he did so knowing that it was physically impossible for him to hit a home run to the half of the field directly in front of him. If you look at a baseball field from foul line to foul line, it has a 90-degree radius. From the power alley in left center field (430 in Joe's time) to the fence in deep right center field (407 ft), it is 45-degrees. And Joe DiMaggio never hit a single home run over the fences at Yankee Stadium in that 45-degree graveyard. It was just too far. Joe was plenty strong; he routinely hit balls in the 425-foot range. But that just wasn't good enough in cavernous Yankee Stadium. Like Ruth, he benefited from a few easy homers each season due to the short foul line distances. But he lost many more than he gained by constantly hitting long fly outs toward center field. Whereas most sluggers perform better on their home fields, DiMaggio hit only 41 percent of his career home runs in the Bronx. He hit 148 homers at Yankee Stadium. If he had hit the same exact pattern of batted balls with a typical modern stadium as his home, he would have belted about 225 homers during his home field career.

    In 1947, Boston Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey and Yankees GM Larry MacPhail verbally agreed to trade DiMaggio for Ted Williams, but MacPhail refused to include Yogi Berra.[8]

    Wartime

    DiMaggio enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces on February 17, 1943, rising to the rank of sergeant. He was stationed at Santa Ana, California; Hawaii; and Atlantic City, New Jersey as a physical education instructor. He was discharged in September 1945.

    Giuseppe and Rosalia DiMaggio were among the thousands of German, Japanese and Italian immigrants classified as "enemy aliens" by the government after Pearl Harbor was bombed by Japan. They had to carry photo ID booklets at all times, and were not allowed to travel outside a five mile radius from their home without a permit. Giuseppe was barred from the San Francisco Bay, where he had fished for decades, and his boat was seized. Rosalia became an American citizen in 1944; Giuseppe in 1945.