Childhood & Early Life
Joseph Paul Joe DiMaggio was born in Martinez, California, to Italian immigrant parents, Giuseppe, a fisherman and Rosalia DiMaggio. He was the eighth of nine children of the couple.
After he turned a year old, his family relocated to San Francisco. While his father wished he would become a fisherman, he hated staying in his father’s boat and resented the smell of dead fish.
His older brother Vince DiMaggio, who played for the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League, convinced his manager to let his brother fill the shortstop position.
Continue Reading Below
On October 1, 1932, he made his professional debut on his brother Vince DiMaggio’s recommendation. He played as a replacement for the last few seasons and was subsequently taken in by the San Francisco Seals.
In 1933, he got hits in sixty consecutive games a record which gave him a celebrity status in the Bay Area. He held a batting average of 340 and had scored a total of 169 runs.
In an unfortunate incident in 1934, he tore his ligaments of the left knee. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Seals wished to sell his contract to the New York Yankees for a $100,000. Despite his injury, Scout Bill Essick of the New York Yankees believed that he would recover and thus insisted on him.
His contract was purchased by the New York Yankees for $25,000 and five players. The San Francisco Seals retained him for the 1935 season and he led the team to the Pacific Coast League title, that year.
On May 3, 1936, he made his debut in major league baseball as a member of the New York Yankees. He batted ahead of his fellow baseball player Lou Gehrig in his first game.
In 1937, he scored a batting average of .346 and a total of 167 runs. During the next season, he scored a batting average of .324. In the next two years, he scored an average of .381, earning the Most Valuable Player award.
In the 1940 season, the Yankees did not win the league championship, for the first time since he joined the team. He scored his second consecutive batting title, with an average of .352.
Year 1941 was historic for him and the game. In the season, he scored a hit in each game and played a record breaking, 56-game hitting streak. He batted .408 during the streak with 15 home runs and 55 RBI.
In the 1942 season, he scored a batting average of .305. However, his career in baseball was cut short as he was recruited into the United States Army Air Force the following year. He was posted as a physical education instructor stationed at Santa Ana, California, Hawaii, and Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Continue Reading Below
In September 1945, he was discharged from the army due to chronic stomach ulcers. The following year, he came back to resume his career in professional baseball.
In the 1946 season, he did not perform his best and scored a disappointing batting average of .290. The next year, he came back in form and scored a batting average of .315.
The 1948 season was one of his best, when he displayed his best form. He scored 39 home runs and 155 runs batted in, with a batting average of a .320.
On February 7, 1949, he signed a record contract for a sum of $100,000. This made him, at that time, the first baseball player to break $100,000 in earnings record.
Awards & Achievements
He was a three time proud recipient of ‘The Major League Baseball Most Valuable Player’ award.
In 1941, he was conferred the ‘Associated Press Athlete of the Year’ title.
In 1955, he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall Of Fame.
On April 13, 1998 he was conferred the ‘Sports Legend Award’ at the 13th annual American Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame Awards Dinner, New York City.
Continue Reading Below
Personal Life & Legacy
On November 19, 1939, he married actress Dorothy Arnold in San Francisco's St. Peter and Paul Church. The couple had a son together. They divorced in 1944.
He was a spokesman and face of ‘Mr.Coffee’, an American coffee machine company. He was also the spokesman for ‘The Bowery Savings Bank’.
On January 14, 1954, he married actress Marilyn Monroe. However, the marriage did not work for long and the couple divorced on October 27, 1954.
He died at the age of 84 in Hollywood, Florida, USA, due to lung cancer.
On September 17, 1992, the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood was opened to raise money. For the hospital he raised $4,000,000.
On April 25, 1999 a fifth monument was dedicated to him at the Yankee Stadium. The West Side Highway in New York was renamed, the Joe DiMaggio Highway in his honour.
During the 1999 season, The New York Yankees wore number 5 on their sleeves in his honour.
In 2006, an auction of his personal belongings was organised by his adopted daughter. The auction resulted in a net sum of $4.1 million.
In 2012, as part of the ‘Major League Baseball All-Star Stamp Series’, the United States Postal Service featured him on a stamp.
He has been repeatedly mentioned in the ‘The Old Man And The Sea’ by Ernest Hemingway. He was mentioned and included in many works of art, literature, music, movies and plays.