Joe DiMaggio: Italian of the Week

ny_comebacks_01apSicilian immigrants Guiseppe and Rosalie DiMaggio welcomed their son, Giuseppe Paolo, on November 25, 1914. His family lived in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco, California, where they worked as fisherman. When Joe was a boy, he and his brothers would play baseball at various sandlots and playgrounds around Fisherman’s Warf. In 1932, his older brother Vince joined the San Francisco Seals – a minor league team – and convinced the team to sign Joe as a shortstop.

On May 3, 1936, Joe made his debut with the New York Yankees and famously remarked, “I would like to thank the good Lord for making me a Yankee.” During his 13 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB), Joe won a number of awards, set records and received much recognition for his talent. Joe set a record by having a 56 game hitting streak in 1941 and he won nine World Series Championships. He was drafted to 13 MLB All-Star games and awarded American League MVP three times. Joe retired from baseball on December 11, 1951. Four years later, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and in the 1970s into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame. His former teammate, Yogi Berra, said of Joe: “He never did anything wrong on the field. I’d never seen him dive for a ball, everything was a chest-high catch, and he never walked off the field.”

post-1963-1284151933In 1937, Joe met Dorothy Arnold and the two married a couple of years later. They had one son, Joseph Paul III, and divorced in 1944. During World War II, Joe enlisted in the United States Army Air Force on February 17, 1943. Even though he requested combat duty, he was instead ordered to play baseball and work on improving the morale for troops. At the beginning of 1954, Joe married actress Marilyn Monroe. In the 1970s, he became known as the face of Mr. Coffee. On January 19, 1999, Joe DiMaggio passed away. His legacy has surpassed sports and has entered into popular culture and history. Following his death, then-President Clinton stated: “Today, America lost one of the century’s most beloved heroes, Joe DiMaggio. This son of Italian immigrants gave every American something to believe in. He became the very symbol of American grace, power and skill. I have no doubt that when future generations look back at the best of America in the 20th century, they will think of the Yankee Clipper and all that he achieved.”

Sources: Joe DiMaggio: Official Site, National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, Baseball Hall of Fame; Biography

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