Boston Red Sox
Unless you've been in a coma since 1935, you've
heard of Joe DiMaggio - the 'Yankee Clipper', the 56 game hitting streak, his marriage to Marilyn Monroe, etc., etc. But Joe's
little brother, Dom, was a great player in his own right. The 'Little Professor' was a seven time All Star, had a 34 game
hitting streak, holds the AL record for putouts in a season (503), and is one of only three players to average more than 100
runs per season during their career. Here is a look back at the career of Dom DiMaggio.
Dominic Paul DiMaggio was
born on February 12, 1917 in San Francisco, CA. The youngest of five boys, Dom was also the runt of the family. It took
a five inch growth spurt as an 18 year old to get Dom to his eventual height of 5-9, and he weighed just 168 lbs. Because
of his diminutive frame and thick glasses, Dom's father had him pegged as lawyer. Dom, however, had other ideas - he wanted
to be a ballplayer. Thanks to a tireless work ethic and fierce determination, he achieved that goal.
career began in 1937 with the minor league San Francisco Seals. Despite hitting .306 that season, many criticized the younger
DiMaggio, saying he was only on the team because of his famous last name. That criticism drove Dom, and in 1939 he hit .361,
and was signed by the Boston Red Sox for $75,000.
DiMaggio had little trouble adjusting to the big leagues, hitting
.301 and scoring 81 runs in 108 games as a rookie in 1940. In 1941, he became the Red Sox regular center fielder and lead
off hitter, placing third in the league with 117 runs scored, and was named to the All Star team for the first time. After
another All Star selection during the 1942 season, in which he hit .286 with 14 homers and 110 runs scored, DiMaggio left
the game for a three year stint in the Navy.
Nicknamed the 'Little Professor' because of his glasses, small stature,
and studious nature, DiMaggio returned to the Red Sox in 1946 and helped them win the AL Pennant. He was once again an All
Star hitting .316 with 73 RBI, as Red Sox headed for a showdown against the St. Louis Cardinals in the Fall Classic.
helped the Sox jump out to a 3-2 lead in the Series by scoring the winning run in Game 5, but the team eventually fell to
St. Louis in Game 7 on Enos Slaugher's made dash home from first base. It was the first time the Red Sox lost a World Series.
DiMaggio was more than just a great offensive player, he was also one of the premier defensive outfielders of his
time. Many fans would joke that he had to play two positions, center field and left field because of the slow-footed Ted Williams.
His brother, Joe, called him the best defensive center fielder ever.
After a couple more steady seasons in 1947 and
1948, Dom put together a long hitting streak of his own in 1949, batting safely in 34 consecutive games. He hit .307 that
season, scored 126 runs, and returned to the All Star Game after a two year absence.
1950 was DiMaggio's finest season.
He hit a career high .328, scored a league leading 131 runs, rapped out 193 hits, led the league with 15 stolen bases, and
played in his fifth All Star Game. In 1951 DiMaggio went streaking again, putting together a 27 game hitting streak. He was
an All Star, hitting .296 and scoring 133 runs.
1952 was essentially DiMaggio's last season. He played in 128 games,
hit .294, and played in his final All Star Game. After appearing in just three games in 1953, Dom DiMaggio retired after 11
big league seasons. He finished with a .298 average and 1,680 hits. He was inducted into the Italian American Sports Hall
of Fame in 1978.
Like many players of his era, we can only wonder what kind of numbers Dom DiMaggio would have put
up if he had not taken three years off during his prime to serve in the military. Now regarded as one of the most underrated
players of all time, there is growing sentiment among the Veteran's Committee to vote the younger DiMaggio in the Hall of
Fame. Not bad for someone that supposedly only got a chance because of his last name.
-David Zingler, August
DiMaggio @ Baseball-Reference.com
Simply Baseball Notebook
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