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Joe DiMaggio

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2001 Topps: Before There Was Topps #BT10 Joe DiMaggio

Joseph Paul DiMaggio Jr.
(Joltin' Joe or The Yankee Clipper)
born as Giuseppe Paolo DiMaggio

Inducted into Hall of Fame in 1955

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[edit] Biographical Information

1938 Goudey
"Joe DiMaggio was the greatest all-around player I ever saw." - Ted Williams

Joe DiMaggio was a huge star who won three MVP awards and has one of the highest career slugging percentages of all time. He was married to actress Marilyn Monroe for a time. He holds the record for the longest hitting streak in major league history, 56 games in 1941. It was considered such a huge accomplishment that he beat out Ted Williams for the 1941 American League Most Valuable Player Award, even though Williams hit .406 that season - the last player ever to bat above .400. DiMaggio was a star from the moment he reached the major leagues: in his first month with the New York Yankees, in May of 1936, he set an all-time record by getting 48 hits, the most of any rookie in his first month in the big leagues.

He was the brother of Dom DiMaggio and Vince DiMaggio, both of whom had substantial careers of their own. Joe and Vince were teammates on the 1933 San Francisco Seals with the 18-year-old Joe hitting .340 and the 20-year-old Vince hitting .333. Dom was also with the Seals, but at a later time.

DiMaggio was in ten World Series and was named to thirteen All-Star teams. However, his statistics and accomplishments would have been even larger if he had not missed several years due to World War II.

Joe was nicknamed "Joltin' Joe" for his speed on the basepath. In High School, he was part of an efficient double play combination with with future infielder/coach/scout Dario Lodigiani.

Joe DiMaggio salutes his bat in 1941

He enlisted in the U.S. Army on February 17, 1943 without even notifying the New York Yankees. He was stationed at Santa Ana airbase in California where he played for the base team and soon ran up a 13-game hitting streak. Assigned to the 7th Army Air Force, DiMaggio arrived in Hawaii June 3, 1944. The day after he arrived he played for the Hickam Bombers and, despite not having played in six weeks, blasted a 435-foot home run out of Honolulu Stadium. Much of his 1944 season, however, was hampered by recurring stomach ulcer problems. In January 1945, DiMaggio was transferred to Atlantic City to recuperate from his ulcer problem.

Because DiMaggio was such a steady player, it is hard to pick his best year with the bat. It might, however, be 1941, which was also the best year of Ted Williams. DiMaggio was MVP that year, finishing third in batting, third in OBP and second in slugging. He was first in RBI and Total Bases, second in Runs Scored, third in Hits, second in Doubles, fourth in Triples and Home Runs, and second in Adjusted OPS+. Aside from the bat, he did his usual excellent fielding in center field that year.

Army Air Force Sergeant Joe DiMaggio (left) and Navy Chief Specialist Harold "Pee Wee" Reese autograph baseballs for commanding officers before their respective teams play for the Central Pacific Area Service Championship on July 7, 1944

When he retired, he was fifth on the all-time home run list. He has the best strikeout to home run ratio of any player in history: he hit 361 home runs while striking out only 369 times, for a lifetime 1.02 ratio. When asked why he played so hard he said, "because there might be somebody out there who’s never seen me play before."

Following his playing days, DiMaggio was an Oakland Athletics coach in 1968 and 1969.

DiMaggio was in the news following the 1989 earthquake in the Bay Area. His home (where he lived with his sister) was in an area that suffered fires after the quake, and many residents were unable to return home at first due to concerns about whether the homes were habitable. In later life he moved to Florida.

"He was a shy, meticulous man. He cooked for himself. He pumped his own gas, shined his own shoes." - attorney Morris Engelberg about DiMaggio in later life

DiMaggio had a children's hospital named after him and was well known for his ads for Mr. Coffee. He was further idolized in the Simon and Garfunkel song Mrs. Robinson:

Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?
A nation turns its lonely eyes to you
(woo woo woo)
What's that you say, Mrs.Robinson
'Joltin Joe' has left and gone away?

He is also mentioned in Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, as Santiago would like "to take the great DiMaggio fishing." He is sure DiMaggio would fish because his father was a fisherman. In 2003 he was elected to the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame. On July 20, 2012, the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp with his likeness as part of a series of four stamps honoring Hall of Famers.

[edit] Notable Achievements

DiMaggio visits the troops in Korea in 1950.
  • 1935 MVP Pacific Coast League San Francisco Seals
  • 13-time AL All-Star (1936-1942 & 1946-1951)
  • 3-time AL MVP (1939, 1941 & 1947)
  • 2-time AL Batting Average Leader (1939 & 1940)
  • 2-time AL Slugging Percentage Leader (1937 & 1950)
  • AL Runs Scored Leader (1937)
  • 3-time AL Total Bases Leader (1937, 1941 & 1948)
  • AL Triples Leader (1936)
  • 2-time AL Home Runs Leader (1937 & 1948)
  • 2-time AL RBI Leader (1941 & 1948)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 11 (1936-1942, 1946-1948 & 1950)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 7 (1937-1941, 1948 & 1950)
  • 40-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1937)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 9 (1936-1942, 1948 & 1950)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 8 (1936-1939, 1941, 1942, 1948 & 1950)
  • 200 Hits Seasons: 2 (1936 & 1937)
  • Won nine World Series with the New York Yankees (1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1941, 1947, 1949, 1950 & 1951)
  • Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1955


AL MVP
1938 1939 1940
Jimmie Foxx Joe DiMaggio Hank Greenberg
1940 1941 1942
Hank Greenberg Joe DiMaggio Joe Gordon
1946 1947 1948
Ted Williams Joe DiMaggio Lou Boudreau

[edit] Records Held

Ronald Reagan and DiMaggio in 1981.
  • Consecutive games with a hit, 56, 1941
  • Strikeout to home run ratio, career, 1.02
  • Most home runs in first 2 seasons, 75, 1936-37
  • Fastest player to reach 200 RBI in his career (201 games)
  • Fastest player to reach 300 RBI in his career (297 games)
  • Fastest player to reach 400 RBI in his career (396 games)
  • Fastest player to reach 500 RBI in his career (505 games)
  • Fastest player to reach 600 RBI in his career (604 games)
  • Fastest player to reach 700 RBI in his career (693 games)
  • Fastest player to reach 800 RBI in his career (803 games)
  • Most RBI in first 2 seasons, 292, 1936-37
  • Most RBI in first 3 seasons, 432, 1936-38
  • Most RBI in first 4 seasons, 558, 1936-39
  • Most RBI in first 5 seasons, 691, 1936-40
  • Most RBI in first 6 seasons, 816, 1936-41
  • Most RBI in first 7 seasons, 930, 1936-42
  • Most RBI in first 10 seasons, 1,277, 1936-48
  • Most RBI in first 12 seasons, 1,466, 1936-50

[edit] Further Reading

  • Tom Clavin: The DiMaggios: Three Brothers, Their Passion for Baseball, Their Pursuit of the American Dream, HarperCollins, New York, NY, 2013. ISBN 978-0062183774
  • Richard Ben Cramer: Joe DiMaggio: The Hero's Life, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 2000. ISBN 0684853914
  • Lew Freedman: DiMaggio's Yankees: A History of the 1936-1944 Dynasty, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2011. ISBN 978-0-7864-5906-3
  • Roger Kahn: Joe and Marilyn: A Memory of Love, William Morrow and Company, New York, NY, 1986. ISBN 068802517X
  • Kostya Kennedy: 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports, Sports Illustrated Books, New York, NY, 2011. ISBN 978-1603201773
  • Michael Seidel: Streak: Joe DiMaggio and the Summer of '41, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, 2002.

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