One of the most beloved baseball stars of all time, Joe DiMaggio is a legendary figure in the American baseball hall of fame and was a great star in his time.
Playing for the New York Yankees, he set records which haven’t yet been broken, like his 56-game winning streak in 1941. Moreover, his star quality made it so he met and had links to other iconic celebrities of the time, such as his relationship with Marilyn Monroe.
Let’s have a look at the top 10 most interesting facts about Joe DiMaggio.
Joe DiMaggio Facts
1. He may have been a Yankee but he was from California
He made his name as a player for the New York Yankees and, of course, New Yorkers will always claim him as one of their own.
However, Joe DiMaggio was born in Martinez, California, in a family of Italian immigrants. His father was a fisherman and it’s these humble roots that endeared DiMaggio to the crowds even more, as he became the emblem of the American Dream itself.
2. His winning streak wasn’t his longest hitting streak
Joe DiMaggio first had an exceptional hitting streak in 1933, in his first full season playing for the San Francisco Seals. He hit safely in 61 straight games. He was then in the Pacific Coast League, and this is still the record in that league.
In a minor league, this is also the record for any player, an interesting fact about Joe DiMaggio.
3. His on-and-off relationship with Marilyn stayed with him all his life
The highly publicized celebrity marriage between Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe only lasted nine months, but their relationship continued for the rest of his life and DiMaggio became known as a true romantic for this connection.
In the early 1960s, The Telegraph in London reported that the two were seen together again and even reading poetry (their marriage had started and ended in 1954). There were rumors suggesting they were planning to get married again. Sadly, Marilyn died in 1962 and it was Joe who claimed her body and arranged the funeral. For the next 20 years, he would order roses to be sent to her crypt three times a week, an interesting Joe DiMaggio fact.
According to DiMaggio’s lawyer Morris Engelberg, when Joe died in 1999, his final words were: “I finally get to see Marilyn.”
4. He almost didn’t make it into baseball because of an injury
DiMaggio might never have made it as a professional baseball player because of an injury in 1934. He tore his ligaments when he stepped out of a jitney, which looked like a career-ending knee injury. However, New York Yankee scout Bill Essick was convinced that he would heal and he convinced the club to let him pass another physical exam, which he did in November of that year. He ended up being offered a contract for $50,000.
5. His nickname was linked to a plane
The Yankee Stadium announcer Arch McDonald coined the nickname that DiMaggio would come be known by, the “Yankee Clipper.” Inspired by his speed and range, McDonald thought of the then-new Pan-American airliner, also called Clipper.
6. His whole family was talented at baseball
Despite their humble beginnings, with their father a fisherman who would have wanted his sons to follow in his footsteps, not only Joe but also his two brothers made it in the baseball major league, an interesting Joe DiMaggio fact. Vince and Dom DiMaggio were both major league centre fielders.
7. His parents were considered “enemy aliens” during World War II
Given their origins in the Isola delle Femmine, in North-Western Sicily, Joe’s parents, Giuseppe and Rosalia, were placed on a list of “enemy aliens” including German, Italian and Japanese immigrants, during World War II. This was in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor and meant that they had to always carry photo ID booklets and couldn’t travel any further than a five-mile radius outside of their home, unless they had a special permit to do this.
Giuseppe had been fishing in San Francisco Bay for decades, but couldn’t continue to do so and his boat was seized by the authorities.
Eventually, they both applied for American citizenship and were awarded it in 1944 and 1945, respectively.
8. DiMaggio popularised coffee drinking in the US
One of Joe DiMaggio’s sponsors in the 1970s was Mr. Coffee, electric drip coffee makers. He worked with them for over 20 years and his advertising spots were extremely successful with customers.
Vincent Marotta, the CEO of North American Systems (the manufacturers of Mr. Coffee), joked that the ads were so popular that “millions of kids grew up thinking Joe DiMaggio was a famous appliance salesman.”
An interesting fact about Joe DiMaggio is that he himself had ulcer and almost never drank coffee. There is also a rumour that, if he did drink coffee, he would prefer an instant coffee brand, Sanka.
9. Smoking killed him
Unsurprising for the period he lived in, Joe DiMaggio was a heavy smoker. This led to him developing lung cancer, and needing surgery. He was admitted to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Florida, on October 12, 1998, and spent 99 days there for surgery and recovery. He would return home on January 19, 1999, but passed away on March 8 the same year.
10. He insisted on being called the “Greatest Living Ballplayer”
DiMaggio was very aware of his popularity and success. He insisted on being introduced at events as the “Greatest Living Ballplayer,” even at the Yankee Old-Timers Day, when other extremely famous baseball players were attending. This was such a serious request that, according to a story by Billy Crystal, he punched the presenter in the stomach for failing to make this introduction.
Joe DiMaggio’s impressive athletic achievements in baseball made him admired by the masses and he lived a very popular celebrity life by the standards of his era. Between his record-breaking performance on the court, his famous relationships, and his sponsorships, he truly was a super star. And now you know 10 interesting facts about Joe DiMaggio!
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