The great Joe DiMaggio was born on this day in 1914. Born to Italian immigrants in California, he is widely considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time. Here are 5 things you probably didn’t know about the “Yankee Clipper.”
He Was Meant to be a Fisherman DiMaggio’s parents were Italian immigrants and arrived in San Francisco in 1914, a year after Joe was born. DiMaggio’s father was a fisherman and wanted his sons to follow in his footsteps, but it didn’t work out that way. DiMaggio had skills on the ballfield even as a youngster, so he dropped out of school to concentrate on his great love - baseball. He proved to his father that he could make a living doing something besides fishing; something he loved.
DiMaggio’s Starting Salary Was $8,500 DiMaggio started out playing for the New York Yankees in 1936 at a salary of $8,500. By the following year, he was making $15,000 a year when the average wage around the country was $1,780. In 1949, DeMaggio was the first ballplayer to earn $100,000 a year, which would have been the equivalent of more than $1 million in 2018.
He Enlisted in The Army In 1943, during his career as a professional athlete, DiMaggio decided to pass up his $43,000 salary, and enlist in the army. He spent the majority of his time in the forces playing baseball with the troops. This was a technique designed to keep morale up and keep the troops entertained. DiMaggio was proud to play his part in using baseball to help the US Army both at home and overseas.
Songwriters Wrote About Him In 1941, the Les Brown orchestra performed a song titled “Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio” that was written by Ben Homer and Alan Courtney. It was a salute to the popular New York Yankee following his 56-game hitting streak. In 1968, musician Paul Simon mentions Joe DiMaggio in his song, “Mrs. Robinson,” which he apparently didn’t appreciate until he understood that Simon was asking where today’s heroes were.
He Adored Marilyn Monroe to His Dying Day DiMaggio was married to screen actress Marilyn Monroe in 1954, but their marriage broke up after nine months. They got back together in the early 1960s, and rumor had it that they were going to marry each other again, but Monroe died in 1962. DiMaggio took charge of the funeral and had roses sent for 30 years to her wall crypt three times each week. When he was on his deathbed, he reportedly said, “I finally get to see Marilyn.”