Joe DiMaggio

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Joe DiMaggio : biography

November 25, 1914 – March 8, 1999

A Yankee Stadium crowd of 52,832 fans watched DiMaggio tie the all-time hitting streak record (44 games, Wee Willie Keeler in 1897) on July 1. The next day against the Boston Red Sox, he homered into Yankee Stadium’s left field stands to extend his streak to 45, setting a new record. DiMaggio recorded 67 hits in 179 at-bats during the first 45 games of his streak, while Keeler recorded 88 hits in 201 chances. DiMaggio continued hitting after breaking Keeler’s record, reaching 50 straight games on July 11 against the St. Louis Browns. On July 17 at Cleveland Stadium, DiMaggio’s streak was finally snapped at 56 games, thanks in part to two backhand stops by third baseman Ken Keltner. DiMaggio batted .408 during the streak, with 15 home runs and 55 RBI. The day after the streak ended, DiMaggio started another streak that lasted 17 games. The distinction of hitting safely in 73 of 74 games is also a record.Baseball’s Top 100: The Game’s Greatest Records, p.5, Kerry Banks, 2010, Greystone Books, Vancouver, BC, ISBN 978-1-55365-507-7

DiMaggio’s streak is considered by some to be a uniquely outstanding and unbreakable record, and a statistical near-impossibility. The Nobel Prize-winning physicist and sabermetrician Edward Mills Purcell calculated that, to have the likelihood of a hitting streak of 50 games occurring in the history of baseball up to the late 1980s be greater than 50%, fifty-two .350 lifetime hitters would have to have existed instead of the actual three (Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby, and Shoeless Joe Jackson). His Harvard colleague Stephen Jay Gould, citing Purcell’s work, called DiMaggio’s 56-game achievement "the most extraordinary thing that ever happened in American sports"., Stephen Jay Gould, New York Review of Books The closest anyone has ever come to equaling DiMaggio since 1941 was Pete Rose, who hit in 44 straight games in 1978.

Samuel Arbesman and Steven Strogatz of Cornell University disagree after conducting 10,000 computer simulations of Major League Baseball from 1871 to 2005, 42% of which produced streaks as long or longer, with record streaks ranging from 39 to 109 games and typical record streaks between 50 and 64 games.

Early life

DiMaggio was born in Martinez, California, the eighth of nine children born to Italian immigrants 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 nearby San Francisco when Joe was a year old.

Giuseppe was a fisherman, as were generations of DiMaggios before him. According to statements from Joe’s brother Tom to biographer Maury Allen, Rosalia’s father wrote to her with the advice that Giuseppe could earn a better living in California than in their native Isola delle Femmine, an Italian town in North-Western Sicily, administratively part of the province of Palermo.

After being processed on Ellis Island, Giuseppe worked his way across America, eventually settling near Rosalia’s father in Pittsburg, California on the east side of the San Francisco Bay Area. After four years, he earned enough money to send to Italy for Rosalia and their daughter, who was born after he had left for the United States.

Giuseppe hoped that his five sons would become fishermen.Schwartz, Larry. , ESPN, Retrieved March 12, 2009. 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 of the Pacific Coast League (PCL), talked his manager into letting DiMaggio fill in at shortstop. Joe DiMaggio made his professional debut on October 1, 1932.

From May 27 to July 25, 1933, he got at least one hit in a PCL-record 61 consecutive games:Great Baseball Feats, Facts and Figures, 2008 Edition, p.210, David Nemec and Scott Flatow, A Signet Book, Penguin Group, New York, NY, ISBN 978-0-451-22363-0 "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."