When Giuseppe and Rosalia DiMaggio were processed at Ellis Island (Great American Things, November 24, 2009) near the turn of the century, they expected they’d raise a new generation of fishermen. That’s what the DiMaggio men had done in the old country, and what Papa took up in California upon his arrival in America. His first two sons obliged – but the last three gravitated to baseball instead. Vince, Giuseppe, and Dominic all became major league center fielders.
As you’ve probably deduced, Giuseppe the younger took the American nickname “Joe.” Good thing. “Joltin’ Giuseppe” just doesn’t cut it.
He burst onto the baseball scene batting ahead of Lou Gehrig, and helped lead the Bronx Bombers to four straight World Series titles. All in all, his Yankees earned nine championships in Joe’s thirteen seasons.
How good was DiMaggio? Well, his 56-game hitting streak is one of the enduring records in sports, and may never be broken. He was named number eleven in the Sporting News’ list of all-time greatest baseball players. He made the All-Star team every season he played, and was the American League MVP three times.
We can’t talk about Joe without mentioning Marilyn. Their courtship was a national obsession, and they eloped on January 14, 1954. The Yankee Clipper’s career had just ended, however, and Marilyn’s was just taking flight. He was jealous, and didn’t handle being out of the spotlight well. She filed for divorce after only 274 days of marriage.
Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.