Joe DiMaggio Makes His First Appearance in a Yankee Uniform!

Joe DiMaggio Makes His First Appearance in a Yankee Uniform!

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21-Year Old Joe DiMaggio Makes His First Appearance in a Yankee Uniform!

“When I sat at a table with Joe and other people…all the men were always looking at Joe instead of me!!” – Marilyn Monroe, speaking of husband Joe DiMaggio.

“I came in to this restaurant and a fella asked me to have a drink. I said I don’t drink. Then another fella said ‘I hear you and Joe DiMaggio aren’t speaking,’ and I said, ‘I’ll take that drink!’ ” – Yankee manager Casey Stengel

I just can’t believe this kind of “humiliation” happened very often to Marilyn Monroe. If it was physically possible for a man’s mere presence to divert other lustful male eyes away from the glamorous sex-symbol – which I would tend to doubt – only a “man’s man” like Joe DiMaggio would be capable of such a feat. Not to mention that a simple suggestion of a possible tiff with him could drive his manager Casey Stengel to drink. That’s the kind of man Joe DiMaggio was. The rest of us “mere mortals” can only imagine what it was like to be Joe DiMaggio!

In the featuried photo below, we see Joe at Yankee Spring training, 1936, with manager Joe McCarthy at St. Petersburg, Florida.

Click on the link to see our nice “Joltin’ Joe” DiMaggio photo collection, featuring many of our favorite DiMaggio photos: http://wp.me/p7a04E-2z6

And it all started 81 years ago today. On March 17, 1936, the future “Yankee Clipper” made his Yankee debut in a big way, collecting four hits, including a triple, in an 8-7 exhibition loss to the Cardinals in St. Petersburg, Florida.

A few weeks after his first appearance in the exhibition game, Joe made his much-heralded major league debut on Sunday, May 3, 1936. He had suffered a foot injury that delayed his season premier by a few weeks. The Yankees were hosting the St. Louis Browns that day and trailed the first place Red Sox by a half game,

They sent Lefty Gomez to the mound to face the Browns’ Jack Knott. DiMaggio batted third, ahead of Lou Gehrig, and played left field. He was magnificent in his first official major league game, with two singles and a triple in the 14-5 win. It was a certainly a loud statement that good things were shortly to come. In the second game of the series after a rainout, DiMaggio picked up where he left off with three hits, all singles, in five at-bats as the Yankees won again over the hapless Browns, 8-2.

The 21-year-old DiMaggio had an outstanding rookie season in 1936. He batted .323, with 132 runs, 29 home runs, 125 RBIs, 44 doubles, 15 triples, a .352 on-base percentage, and a .576 slugging average. He certainly would have won the “Rookie of the Year” award had it existed in1936.

The Yankees, along with their sensational rookie, Joe DiMaggio, won the 1936 pennant by 19 and 1/2 games over the Tigers. Facing their New York rivals, the Giants, in the World Series, the Yankees won fairly easily in six games. DiMaggio batted .346, hitting three doubles, three singles and driving in three runs in 26 at-bats.

As we all know, Joe went on to have a marvelous major league career. Over his 13-year career (1936-51), interrupted by military service during World War II (1943-45), he batted .325, with 2214 hits, 1390 runs, 361 home runs, 1537 RBIs, .398 on-base percentage, and a .579 slugging average. Joe struck out only 369 times in 6821 at-bats. His mark of 155 OPS+ places him well above average for players of his era (100 being the major league average). In 51 post-season games, he hit .271, with 30 RBIs, and eight home runs. In addition, he was known as an extremely graceful centerfielder, and certainly one of the best defensive outfielders of his era.

Career highlights include 13 All-Star selections, ten pennants, nine World Series championships, three American League MVP Awards, two American League batting titles, two American League home run titles, two American League RBI titles, and, of course, his 56-game major league record hitting streak. His #5 has been retired by the Yankees, he was selected for the Major League Baseball All-Century team, and he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1955.

-GL

Photo Credits: All from Google search

Information: Excerpts edited from article on Joe DiMaggio in The Bleacher Report, by Harold Friend, July 27, 2011: http://bleacherreport.com/…/781700-joe-dimaggio-should-have…; and from the Joe DIMaggio Wikipedia page.

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I'm a baseball historian who also loves to write. My forte is identifying ballplayers in old photos, and my specail interest is the Dead Ball Era.

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