Joe DiMaggio retired in 1951 and died in 1999, but even now, he casts a regal shadow over baseball.
Noted paleontologist and author Stephen Jay Gould said that DiMaggio’s epic 56-game hitting streak “is the most extraordinary thing that ever happened in American sports.”
We’d have to put Secretariat’s Belmont Stakes run up there and Bob Beamon’s insane record-smashing 1968 long jump up there.
Well it’s a small list.
DiMaggio was not a big man. He was always slender and was called “the Yankee Clipper,” not exactly the Iron Horse.
As you’ll see in this video though, he had tremendous hand-eye coordination and he met the ball with power and speed, which leads us to his other nickname: Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio.
Aside from baseball, he had a remarkable life. His parents were Italian immigrants and his father wanted him to work on his fishing boat but Joe, revolted by the smell, refused.
During World War II, his parents were both classified as Enemy Aliens and while they were not sent to concentration camps as Japanese Americans were, their travel was restricted and their movements presumably monitored.
DiMaggio also famously married and divorced Marilyn Monroe and later appeared ready to marry her again before her death in 1962.
His hitting streak remains the standard and he has become an archetype of the game.