Joseph Paul DiMaggio, nicknamed "Joltin' Joe" and "the Yankee Clipper", was an American Major League Baseball center fielder who played his entire 13-year career for the New York Yankees. He is perhaps best known for his 56-game hitting streak (May 15 – July 16, 1941), a record that still stands.
DiMaggio was a three-time MVP winner and an All-Star in each of his 13 seasons. During his tenure with the Yankees, the club won ten American League pennants and nine World Series championships. He was nicknamed the "Yankee Clipper" by Yankee Stadium announcer Arch McDonnald because Joe's speed and range in the outfield was liken to the new Pan American airliner.
At the time of his retirement, he ranked fifth in career home runs (361) and sixth in career slugging percentage (.579). He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955, and was voted the sport's greatest living player in a poll taken during the baseball centennial year of 1969.
Joe was the son of Giuseppe DiMaggio and Rosalia Mercurio DiMaggio who were immigrants from Sicily. He was the eight of nine children born to the couple. Joe was raised in San Francisco, California. Giuseppe was a fisherman and encouraged his sons to work the fishnets. Joe, and his older brother Vince, had other plans.
Vince was playing semi-pro baseball in the early 1930's for the San Francisco Seals and convinced his manager to let Joe substitute for the short stop. Joe made his debut on October 1, 1932 and played for the Seals through the 1935 season. The New York Yankees purchased his contract in 1934, and he made his Yankee debut in May, 1936. He played for the Yankees - with a break for the War years - until September, 1951.
Joe played for the Yankees for his entire pro career. He enlisted into the US Army Air Forces in February, 1943, but because of his fame, was assigned to duty as a physical education instructor. He spent most of World War II playing baseball in Hawaii with other major and minor league players. He was discharged with the rank of sergeant in September, 1945 with a medical discharge due to stomach ulcers.
Joe's parents, however, didn't have the same easy time throughout the war. According to an article in the New York Daily News published in 1999, 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.
Joe was married twice. First to Dorothy Arnold on November 19, 1939. Their son, Joseph Paul III was born in October, 1941. They divorced in 1944.
Joe then married Marilyn Monroe in January, 1954, but because of his drinking and her temper, the marriage was marked by struggle - sometimes in very much in public. Nine months later, they divorced. Joe and Marilyn would continue to have contact throughout the rest of Marilyn's life and there was speculation of their romantic involvement at the time of her death. Joe claimed Marilyn's body after her death on August 5, 1962 and paid for her funeral. He sent roses to her grave for 20 years.
After baseball, Joe had a career as the spokesperson for several companies, notably Mr. Coffee.
Joe died on March 8, 1999, at the age of 85, several months after surgery for lung cancer. He is buried at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, California. His son, Joe III died in August, 1999 at the age of 57.
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