Who hits the ball and makes it go?
Who runs the bases fast, not slow?
Who’s better than his brother Joe?
But when it comes to getting dough,
They give it all to brother Joe.
(Refrain recited by Red Sox fans in the 1940s.)
Dom DiMaggio was the baby of the family and he is the only one left. Neither of Dom’s major league brothers, Vince and Joe, both of whom were outstanding defensive outfielders, ever taught him much about the game. Dom was the baby brother they usually ignored, but one time, the only time probably, that Joe helped Dom, was in the first game they played against each other at Yankee Stadium. Joe lived to regret it.
Dom DiMaggio Heeded His Brother’s Advice
The wind was blowing out toward center field. After the Red Sox were retired, Joe was heading for the dugout and Dom was going out to play center field. “Say, Dom, the balls carry pretty good in this ball park. Play a bit deeper.” Obedient Dom moved about twelve steps deeper than he was instructed to play as his brother stepped into the batter’s box. Remembering how much power his brother had, Dom moved back even more. Of course, Joe hit a blast into straight away deep center field that was heading for the monuments. Dominick raced back and snared the ball as it was about to hit the top of one of the monuments. The Yankees were retired, the brothers again met, and Dom expressed his gratitude to his brother. “Thanks for the advice Joe.” The Yankee Clipper was outwardly displeased. “You ungrateful little brat,” growled Joe, but he had a proud smile on his face.
Dom Almost Ended Joe DiMaggio’s Hitting Streak
In 1941, during the 56 game hitting streak, Joe had been robbed twice on great outfield plays by Red Sox outfielders. Coming to the plate for the third time, Joe blasted a shot to deep center field on which Dom made a spectacular catch against the the wall to rob his brother, who later told reporters “That was most impolite and unbrotherly, especially since he’s coming to my house for dinner tonight.” Joe made up for it when he hit a home run his next time up.
Dom Was Rated Better Than Joe or Vince Defensively
Dom DiMaggio’s best season was 1950, which was near the end of his career. He batted .328 with a .414 on base average. Dom was not a power hitter, never hitting more than 14 home runs in a season, and the only season he out hit his brother Joe was 1946, when he hit .316 and helped the Red Sox win the pennant. He missed the 1943-1945 seasons in order to help win one of America’s many wars. Dom finished with a .298 batting average, which is the same as Mickey Mantle’s, but it was as an outfielder that he really made his mark. Most individuals who saw Vince, Joe, and Dom ranked Dom as a better defensive player than either of his brothers.
Not a Hanger-On
On May 12, 1953, Dom announced his retirement. He told the press that he could probably play another season but “…I prefer to turn my interests elsewhere rather than be a hanger-on.” Joe had voiced a similar view when he refused to take $100,000 to play for the Yankees after the 1951 season. Finally, on November 25, 1953, Dom requested and received his unconditional release from the Red Sox. He had been ill, and decided to go into business, and although he received offers from the Indians and Giants, Dom indicated that he had really retired.
The Most Underrated Player of His Era
Dom DiMaggio was an underrated player when he was active. David Halberstam considered him the most underrated player of his era, and today, players similar to Dom DiMaggio are even more unappreciated, especially if they play center field. Dom was not a Hall ofFamer, although he deservedly was voted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame. Dom was simply a player who can become an integral part of a winning team. In 1946, he had the opportunity to demonstrate that defense, skilled hitting, and speed on the bases can lead to a championship. So did Enos Slaughter.
Still On His Game at 90
Dom DiMaggio at the DiamondAngle
By ARTHUR DALEY (1948, September 26). Sports of the Times :Little Brother. New York Times (1857-Current file),S2. Retrieved December 20, 2008, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2005) database. (Document ID: 96434522).
Dom DiMaggio of Red Sox Retires Rather Than Become ‘Hanger-On’ :Last of Three Brothers to See Action in Majors Ends Play — White Sox Get Consuegra . (1953, May 13). New York Times (1857-Current File),36. Retrieved December 20, 2008, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2005) database. (Document ID: 84401997).
Dom DiMaggio Rejects Offer to Join Giants. (1953, December 31). New York Times (1857-Current File),14. Retrieved December 20, 2008, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2005) database. (Document ID: 83743168).