Joe DiMaggio

DiMaggio, Joe (Joseph Paul DiMaggio)dĭmăjˈēōˌ, –mäjˈēōˌ, 1914–99, American baseball player, b. Martinez, Calif. One of the most charismatic of 20th-century sports figures, "Joltin' Joe" joined the New York Yankees of the American League in 1936 and quickly rose to stardom, winning the league's batting title with a .381 average in his fourth season. In a career interrupted by World War II, the center fielder became the celebrated epitome of grace and humility. In 1939, 1941, and 1947 he was the American League's Most Valuable Player, and in 1941 the "Yankee Clipper" established one of baseball's best-known records by hitting safely in 56 consecutive games. He retired in 1951 and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955. His quiet heroics and brief marriage (1954) to Marilyn Monroe made him an icon of popular culture, although later biographical study has tended to deflate that status to some degree.

See biographies by R. B. Cramer (2000) and J. Charyn (2011); K. Kennedy, Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports (2011).

His brother, Dominic DiMaggio, 1917–2009, b. San Francisco, was also a major-league baseball player. Although always in his elder brother's shadow, the "Little Professor" was a talented centerfielder and an aggressive hitter, who began playing pro ball in 1937 and spent most of his career with the Boston Red Sox (1940–41, 1946–53). A seven-time All-Star, he had a career average of .298 with the Sox.

See his memoir (1990, with B. Gilbert, repr. 2004).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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