Joe DiMaggio

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Joe DiMaggio : biography

November 25, 1914 – March 8, 1999

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 released on medical discharge in September 1945, due to chronic stomach ulcers. Other than now being paid $21 a month, DiMaggio’s service was as comfortable as a soldier’s life could be. He spent most of his career playing for base teams and in exhibition games against fellow Major Leaguers and minor league players, and superiors gave him special privileges due to his prewar fame. DiMaggio ate so well from an athlete-only diet that he gained 10 pounds, and while in Hawaii he and other players mostly tanned on the beach and drank. Embarrassed by his lifestyle, DiMaggio demanded combat duty in 1943, but was turned down.

Parents as "enemy aliens"

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 carried 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, followed by Giuseppe in 1945.

Major league career

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.Kennedy, Kostya, "The Streak", Sports Illustrated, March 14, 2011, pp. 60–67 (Excerpted from 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports, 2011, Sports Illustrated Books).

In 1939, DiMaggio was nicknamed the "Yankee Clipper" by Yankee’s stadium announcer Arch McDonald, when he likened DiMaggio’s speed and range in the outfield to the then-new Pan American airliner.Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life, Richard Ben Cramer, p. 152.

DiMaggio was pictured with his son on the cover of the inaugural issue of SPORT magazine in September, 1946. 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..

In the September 1949 issue of SPORT magazine, Hank Greenberg said 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.

On February 7, 1949, DiMaggio signed a record contract worth $100,000 ($ in current dollar terms) ($70,000 plus bonuses), and became the first baseball player to break $100,000 in earnings. By 1950, he was ranked the second-best center fielder by the Sporting News, after Larry Doby. 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. 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.

Through May 2009, DiMaggio was tied with Mark McGwire for third place all-time in home runs over the first two calendar years in the major leagues (77), behind Phillies Hall of Famer Chuck Klein (83), and Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun (79).. Through 2011, he was one of seven major leaguers to have had at least four 30-homer, 100-RBI seasons in their first five years, along with Chuck Klein, Ted Williams, Ralph Kiner, Mark Teixeira, Albert Pujols, and Ryan Braun.http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110917&content_id=24822414&vkey=news_mlb&c_id=mlb DiMaggio would likely have exceeded 500 home runs and 2,000 RBIs had he not served in the military.