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  • Joe DiMaggio
    November 25, 1914 March 8, 1999

    by Anthony Parente

    I never had an opportunity to watch DiMaggio play. It wasn't because I couldn't get a ticket or I didn't have the time to do so. I had the unfortunate luck of being born after his playing career and what a career it was. DiMaggio accomplished many great things in his career, but the one thing that will be remembered the most is his 56 game hitting streak. They say records are meant to be broken and that somewhere, sometime, somebody will come along and beat the odds to break any record. Let's face it we already have seen two records fall in the 1990's. We saw Cal Ripken put together a streak of games played that no one ever thought could be broken. We were fortunate to see McGwire and Sosa put on a show of shows by not only chasing history but by chasing each other for the most home runs in a single season. Will we ever have an opportunity to witness a player hitting in 57 straight games? That is a question that we will have to wait and see.

    On November 25, 1914 Joseph Paul DiMaggio was born in the town of Martinez, California. He was one of nine children, five boys and four girls, to Giuseppe Paolo and Rosalie DiMaggio, who immigrated to America from the small town of Isola Delle Femmine, Sicily. Like many families that came to America the DiMaggio's had their share of hard times and struggles. During the depression Joe opted to quit high school and get a job. That didn't last long and soon he found himself playing sandlot ball. Unlike his two older brothers Tom and Mike, who followed in their father footsteps and became fisherman, Joe strayed towards baseball with his brothers Vince and Dom.

    While playing for the San Francisco Seals the New York Yankees signed Joe for 25,000 dollars. In 1936 he joined the Yankees and stayed with the club for 16 years playing center field. Due to World War II, DiMaggio missed three years of baseball. During his career he was given such nicknames as "The Yankee Clipper" for his incredible defensive abilities and "Joltin' Joe" for his hitting prowess.

    Plagued with injuries for most of his career DiMaggio didn't let that stop him from being the best he could be. In his 13 years with the Yankees DiMaggio compiled such statistics and awards as:

    • .325 batting average
    • .579 slugging percentage
    • 2,214 hits
    • 361 home runs
    • 1,537 runs batted in
    • 1,390 runs scored
    • 56 game hitting streak
    • 9 World Championships
    • Named American League Most Valuable Player in 1939, 1941, and 1947
    • Lead the American League in home runs in 1937 and 1948
    • American League batting champion in 1939 (.381) and 1940 (.352)
    • Lead the American League in rbi's in 1941 and 1948
    • Associated Press Athelete of the Year in 1941
    One hidden stat that is just as amazing is that he ended his career with almost as many home runs as strikeouts. He missed tying his strikeouts by only 8 home runs. In 1955 DiMaggio was bestowed the greatest honor any baseball player could achieve by being inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame.

    After his retirement DiMaggio remained in the spotlight when he married the sexy Marilyn Monroe. Although his marriage didn't last long DiMaggio still loved the beautiful actress. After her tragic death DiMaggio had roses sent to her grave three times a week, but had to stop this when fans would go to the grave site and take the roses.

    DiMaggio will never be forgotten. He captured the hearts of America with his grace, style, and desire. He lived an American dream. He did what many kids dream of doing when they grow up and for that he will always be remembered as one of the greatest baseball players of all time.

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