Joe DiMaggio is still considered as one of the most popular basketball players in history. With his 56-game hitting streak, he became an iconic figure who thrilled baseball fans and made history. According to the New York Times, this achievement is “probably the most enduring record in sports.” DiMaggio, who was known for his quiet demeanor, was devoted to baseball and played with dedication, refinement, and dignity. He began his Major League career with the New York Yankees, where he played a key role in helping the team win nine World Series championships in his 13 seasons with the franchise. During his years of success, he embodied the image of a sports hero. Because of his enormous popularity, he became the face of numerous commercial initiatives. He was also all over the electronic media, including radio and television. ‘Joltin Joe’ and ‘The Yankee Clipper’ were two of his popular nicknames. He married actress Marilyn Monroe and is said to have remained faithful to her even after their divorce. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall Of Fame for his exceptional talent on the field. In addition, during baseball’s centennial year in 1965, he was voted the best living player in a poll.
Childhood and Adolescence
Joseph Paul Joe DiMaggio was born in Martinez, California, to Italian immigrants Giuseppe and Rosalia DiMaggio, who worked as fishermen. He was the eighth of the couple’s nine children.
His family moved to San Francisco when he was a year old. While his father wished he would follow in his father’s footsteps and become a fisherman, he despised staying aboard his father’s boat and the stench of dead fish.
His older brother Vince DiMaggio, who played shortstop for the Pacific Coast League’s San Francisco Seals, persuaded his manager to let him fill the position.
Career of Joe DiMaggio
On his brother Vince DiMaggio’s recommendation, he made his professional debut on October 1, 1932. He spent the previous few seasons as a backup before being drafted by the San Francisco Seals.
He hit in sixty consecutive games in 1933, a record that earned him celebrity status in the Bay Area. He had a batting average of 340 and had hit 169 home runs.
He tore his left knee ligaments in an unfortunate occurrence in 1934. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Seals wanted to sell his contract for $100,000 to the New York Yankees. Despite his injury, New York Yankees Scout Bill Essick believed he would recover and insisted on him playing.
The New York Yankees bought his contract for $25,000 and five players. He was re-signed by the San Francisco Seals for the 1935 season, and he led the team to the Pacific Coast League title.
He made his major league baseball debut on May 3, 1936, with the New York Yankees. In his first game, he batted ahead of fellow baseball player Lou Gehrig.
In 1937, he had a.346 batting average and 167 runs batted in. The following season, he had a hitting average of.324. He averaged.381 over the next two years, earning him the Most Valuable Player award.
For the first time since he joined the organization, the Yankees did not win the league championship in 1940. With a hitting average of.352, he won his second straight batting crown.
For him and the game, 1941 was a watershed moment. Throughout the season, he had a hit in every game and had a 56-game hitting streak. During the streak, he hit.408 with 15 home runs and 55 RBI.
He had a.305 batting average during the 1942 season. His baseball career, however, was cut short when he was drafted into the US Army Air Force the next year. He was assigned to Santa Ana, California, Hawaii, and Atlantic City, New Jersey as a physical education instructor. He was released from the service in September 1945 owing to persistent stomach ulcers. He returned the next year to restart his professional baseball career.
He did not have a great season in 1946, with a batting average of.290. He regained his form the next year, batting.315 with a.315 on-base percentage.
He had one of his best seasons in 1948, when he was at his peak. With a.320 batting average, he hit 39 home runs and drove in 155 runs.
He secured a record contract for $100,000 on February 7, 1949. This made him the first baseball player to earn more than $100,000 at the time.
Achievements & Awards
He won the ‘Major League Baseball Most Valuable Player’ title three times in his career.
He received the Associated Press Athlete of the Year award in 1941.
He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955.
He received the ‘Sports Legend Award’ at the 13th annual American Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame Awards Dinner in New York City on April 13, 1998.
Personal History and Legacy
He married actress Dorothy Arnold in San Francisco’s St. Peter and Paul Church on November 19, 1939. They had a child together. In 1944, they divorced.
He was the spokesman and face of the American coffee machine brand ‘Mr.Coffee.’ He also served as a spokesperson for ‘The Bowery Savings Bank.’
He married actress Marilyn Monroe on January 14, 1954. The marriage, however, did not last long, and the couple divorced on October 27, 1954.
He died of lung cancer at the age of 84 in Hollywood, Florida, USA.
To gather funds, the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood opened on September 17, 1992. He raised $4 million for the hospital.
A fifth monument honouring him was installed at Yankee Stadium on April 25, 1999. In his honor, the West Side Highway in New York was christened the Joe DiMaggio Highway.
The New York Yankees honored him by wearing number 5 on their sleeves for the 1999 season.
His adopted daughter organized an auction of his personal possessions in 2006. The net proceeds from the sale were $4.1 million.
The United States Postal Service placed him on a stamp in 2012 as part of the ‘Major League Baseball All-Star Stamp Series.’ In Ernest Hemingway’s novel “The Old Man And The Sea,” he is mentioned several times. Many works of art, literature, music, movies, and plays mentioned and incorporated him.
This world-famous baseball player was dubbed the ‘Yankee Clipper’ in 1939 because of his speed and range, which was compared to the then-newly built Pan American airliner.