14.6 C
New York
Wednesday, March 22, 2023

On this day in history, March 8, 1999, Yankees legend Joe DiMaggio dies, ‘cultural icon’ on and off field

Baseball star Joe DiMaggio, a towering figure of American popular culture both on and off the field, died in Hollywood, Florida, after a battle with lung cancer on this day in history, March 8, 1999. 

The New York Yankees legend was 84 years old. 

“Joltin’ Joe” DiMaggio was a nine-time World Series champion, three-time American League MVP and, most memorably on the field, hit safely in 56 straight games in 1941 — an incredible record of consistency which has never been approximated since.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY, MARCH 7, 1857, BASEBALL ADOPTS NINE PLAYERS, NINE INNINGS AS STANDARD OF COMPETITION

DiMaggio died, according to some accounts, whispering the name of his life-long love and ex-wife, also an American idol, Marilyn Monroe

Others close to him disputed the deathbed claim.

Joe DiMaggio was the son of poor Sicilian immigrants who went on to become one of America's greatest pop-culture icons. He won nine World Series in 13 years with the New York Yankees, married Marilyn Monroe in 1954 and has been celebrated in popular hit songs.

Joe DiMaggio was the son of poor Sicilian immigrants who went on to become one of America’s greatest pop-culture icons. He won nine World Series in 13 years with the New York Yankees, married Marilyn Monroe in 1954 and has been celebrated in popular hit songs. (Getty Images)

The National Baseball Hall of Fame has declared DiMaggio a “cultural icon” and “an American hero.”

His Hall of Fame biography says, “He married Hollywood starlets Marilyn Monroe and Dorothy Arnold and he was immortalized in Paul Simon’s hit song ‘Mrs. Robinson.’” 

It adds, “To a generation he was the face of Mister Coffee, and he was regarded as one of the greatest players who ever played the game.”

“When New York saw itself as the center of the world, he was its paragon of class.” — Richard Ben Cramer on Joe DiMaggio

Giuseppe Paolo DiMaggio was born to Sicilian immigrant parents in Martinez, California, on Nov. 25, 1914. 

He made his Yankees debut in 1936 and played until 1951, missing three seasons at the height of his career to World War II, when he served as a U.S. Army Air Forces sergeant.

FLORIDA DOCTOR ISSUES VIRAL BBQ GRILL BRUSH WARNING ON TIKTOK AFTER CHILD’S VISIT TO HER EMERGENCY ROOM

His graceful style of play earned him the nickname “Yankee Clipper,” after the luxury commercial airliners that took flight over American skies in the 1930s just as DiMaggio’s career took off with the Yankees. 

“Coming out of the Great Depression, he was the immigrant boy who made it big,” wrote DiMaggio biographer Richard Ben Cramer. 

On Jan. 14, 1954, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio wed. They divorced in October after just 274 days of marriage.

On Jan. 14, 1954, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio wed. They divorced in October after just 274 days of marriage. (Getty Images)

“Coming back from World War II, he had all the wealth and power that New York aspired to. When New York saw itself as the center of the world, he was its paragon of class.”

He was the biggest star on Yankees’ teams that dominated baseball and sports headlines in America’s biggest media market during a glamorous era in New York City history. 

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY, JAN. 14, 1954, MARILYN MONROE MARRIES JOE DIMAGGIO

The Bronx Bombers won the American League pennant in 10 of DiMaggio’s 13 seasons and won all but one of those 10 World Series appearances.

DiMaggio was a baseball All Star in each season of his career.

“I’ll finally get to see Marilyn.” — DiMaggio’s disputed last words 

He complemented his seemingly effortless play in the field with dominance at the plate.

DiMaggio was a two-time American League batting champ, two-time home-run leader and two-time RBI leader.

DiMaggio also bridged dynastic periods in Yankees history, taking the field with figures who spanned 65 years of storied franchise lore.  

(Original Caption) 6/28/1939: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Joe DiMaggio is pictured as he smashed out his second homer in the first game of the Yankees double header with the Philadelphia Athletics. Joe and the other Yankee sluggers made baseball history when they clouted out eight four-baggers in the first game and five in the second game, breaking all existing home run records. Hayes is catching. Acme photograph.

(Original Caption) 6/28/1939: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Joe DiMaggio is pictured as he smashed out his second homer in the first game of the Yankees double header with the Philadelphia Athletics. Joe and the other Yankee sluggers made baseball history when they clouted out eight four-baggers in the first game and five in the second game, breaking all existing home run records. Hayes is catching. Acme photograph. (Getty Images)

He won titles early in his career with Lou Gehrig and late in his career with Mickey Mantle and Billy Martin. 

MLB SHOULD BOYCOTT FLORIDA UNDER DESANTIS, COLUMNIST CLAIMS: ‘BASEBALL CAN NO LONGER IGNORE’ CULTURE WARS

Gehrig won his first World Series with Babe Ruth in 1923 and his last with DiMaggio in 1939.

Mantle took his last swing with the Yankees in 1968; Martin returned from his playing career to manage the Yankees into a World Series championship in 1977 and last led the team in 1988.

“Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.” — Simon & Garfunkel in “Mrs. Robinson”

Despite sparkling success on the diamond, DiMaggio is remembered by many Americans today for his romance with bombshell Monroe, a relationship that blazed across the headlines and gossip pages. 

The couple wed in January 1954, but divorced in October after just 274 days of marriage. DiMaggio was reportedly jealous and possessive, lamented her substance abuse and despised her relationship with other celebrities such as Frank Sinatra and, later, President John F. Kennedy.

He grew enraged on the set of Monroe’s famous subway grate scene in September 1954 for the movie “The Seven Year Itch.” Her dress billowed provocatively over her head while fans on the street lewdly cheered the spectacle. 

Film star Marilyn Monroe poses over a Manhattan subway grate as the wind blows her white dress up. Photographers capture the moment on camera, which takes place on Sept. 16, 1954, during the filming of "Seven Year Itch." Reportedly, Monroe's husband Joe DiMaggio was displeased at the attention his wife received from the crowds.

Film star Marilyn Monroe poses over a Manhattan subway grate as the wind blows her white dress up. Photographers capture the moment on camera, which takes place on Sept. 16, 1954, during the filming of “Seven Year Itch.” Reportedly, Monroe’s husband Joe DiMaggio was displeased at the attention his wife received from the crowds. (Bettmann/Contributor Getty Images)

Yet, by all accounts, he doted on her the rest of his life.

“I’ll finally get to see Marilyn,” DiMaggio whispered in his last words, according to a bedside account told by lawyer and confidant Morris Engelberg. 

“DiMaggio orchestrated the starlet’s funeral. He kept it private and dignified, forbidding many Hollywood stars to attend the ceremonies,” writes PBS American Experience. 

“In the years that followed, DiMaggio rarely spoke of her. He had roses delivered to her gravesite twice a week for the next 20 years. DiMaggio never married again.”

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR OUR LIFESTYLE NEWSLETTER

DiMaggio has been the subject of books, documentaries and several popular songs

He’s a central figure in the Simon & Garfunkel hit “Mrs. Robinson,” from the seminal 1967 period Hollywood production “The Graduate.”

New York Yankees sluggers Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle posing for the camera with their pine bats, 1951. 

New York Yankees sluggers Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle posing for the camera with their pine bats, 1951.  (The Stanley Weston Archive/Getty Images)

The song portrays DiMaggio as a heroic icon of an America many people felt slipping away in the 1960s: “Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?” Paul Simon wrote. “Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.”

DiMaggio is also celebrated in John Fogerty’s 1985 baseball anthem “Centerfield”; in Billy Joel’s 1989 romp through American history “We Didn’t Start the Fire”; and in Madonna’s 1990 hit “Vogue,” a tribute to the great fashion icons of the 1940s and 1950s. 

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“Men like Joe DiMaggio are not just of their own time,” actor and baseball enthusiast Kevin Costner once said. “They are men for the ages.”

Source link

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

0FansLike
3,745FollowersFollow
0SubscribersSubscribe

Latest Articles