Joe DiMaggio was simply the greatest all-around baseball player of his era, which was the last before integration changed the complexion of the game in the 1950s. As a New York baseball legend, "The Yankee Clipper" succeeded superstars Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and preceded Mickey Mantle. In his 15 year career from 1935 to 1951 (which was interrupted by three years spent in the Army during World War Two from 1943-45), DiMaggio won three Most Valuable Player awards and was named to the All-Star team thirteen times.
His 1936 Yankees team won the World Series his freshman year, as it did in 1937, '38 and '39. The four straight wins was a record that would be surpassed by the Yankees team of 1949-53, of which "Joltin' Joe was a member for their first three World Championships, retiring after the 1951 season due to incredible pain that he had stoically endured. Ultimately, he played in 10 World Series, of which the Yankees won an incredible nine. Only Yogi Berra, Joe's teammate from 1946-1951, appeared on more world champions than DiMaggio.
DiMaggio is the possessor of what many consider the one batting record that will never be breached: consecutive games hitting. From May 15 to July 17, 1941, he hit in 56 straight games. DiMaggio beat out the great Ted Williams of the Red Sox for the MVP award that year, even though Ted hit .406. DiMaggio also beat Williams for the MVP in 1947, when "The Slendid Splinter" won his second Triple Crown. DiMaggio was a flawless outfielder, and considered the major cog that made the Yankees winners. He was the consummate team player in an era (the Depression and World War II) in which cooperation was emphasized to beat the economic doldrums and global fascism.
Joe DiMaggio played his entire career in Yankee Stadium, the "House that Ruth Built", so called not only due to the Babe's great popularity, but also because the park was tailored to his left-handed power. Joe DiMaggio was a right-handed hitter in a park that was death to righties: left-center field at Yankee Stadium in 1937 was 457 feet deep (whereas now, it is 399 feet deep).
In 1969, a poll conducted to coincide with the centennial of major league baseball ranked him as baseball's greatest living player. The great Joe DiMaggio, whom many believe was the most perfect and most complete ballplayer of all time, would continue to be legendary, even if he had not married Marilyn Monroe, the love of his life, which is a whole 'nother story.
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