“There’s always some kid who may be watching me for the first time or the last time. I owe him my best.”
Baseball Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio
In 1969, Joe DiMaggio was voted Baseball’s best living player.
DiMaggio was a three-time Most Valuable Player and was an All-Star in each of his 13 seasons, all of which were with the New York Yankees. The Yankees won ten Pennants and nine World Championships during DiMaggio’s tenure.
Joe D. belted 361 Home Runs however playing in spacious Yankee Stadium hurt his power numbers. 213 of DiMaggio’s Home Runs were on the road.
“Joltin Joe” finished his career with a lifetime batting average of .325. He was an excellent outfielder and a great baserunner.
Joe’s brothers, Dom and Vince also played Major League Baseball and Dom was a seven-time All-Star with the Boston Red Sox.
In 1941, DiMaggio hit safely in a Major League record 56 consecutive games.
DiMaggio made these remarks prior to the start of his last (1951) season. DiMaggio’s commitment to excellence always was there.
As someone who grew up in New York and who loved the Yankees, DiMaggio was one of my heroes even though he retired the year before I was born.
I always enjoyed Yankee broadcasters Mel Allen and Phil Rizzuto (also a teammate of DiMaggio) tell stories about Joe D. People who watched him play say he never made a mistake on the baseball diamond.
It is great to be consistent; it is another thing to be consistently great and DiMaggio was the latter. Not only did he hit safely in 56 straight games, but after the steak was stopped, in Cleveland, he then hit safely in 16 consecutive games.
When I watched video of him, I noticed that he never “jumped” at the ball. His stance was widespread and he had great wrists. That is why he seldom struck out even though he was a power hitter. DiMaggio drew 790 walks and only struck out 369 times!
DiMaggio’s successor in center field with the Yankees, the great Mickey Mantle, said, “If they are going to give me a plaque, they ought to put Joe’s plaque a little higher than mine”.
I was privileged to have seen Mantle play; I only wish I had seen the great DiMaggio in action.