RIP, Little Professor

In Uncategorized on May 8, 2009 at 1:38 pm

DiMaggio (far left) with Mickey Vernon and Ted Williams in 1946

Sad news out of Boston today, as  Red Sox Hall of Famer Dom DiMaggio died early this morning in his Massachusetts home. The youngest of three DiMaggio brothers, Dom spent much of his life in the looming shadow of his superstar sibling, Joe.  During a 10 year career with the Sox, DiMaggio was known primarily for his stellar defense and strong throwing arm, though he finished his career with a very solid .298 lifetime average. And – real shocker here – DiMaggio still holds the record for the longest consecutive game hit streak in Red Sox history, hitting safely in 34 straight games in 1949. Always undersized at 5′ 9″ and 168 pounds, DiMaggio still managed to scrape together a great career through hard work and his natural speed.

DiMaggio signing autographs at Sox spring training

Now, I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I’m some kind of Dom DiMaggio expert and reel off a list of his statistics and achievements – I mean, the guy retired from baseball 32 years before I was even born. But, ever since reading David Halberstam’s phenomenal book, The Teammates, in which DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky embark on a 1,300 mile road trip to visit a dying Ted Williams one last time at his home in Florida, I’ve had a soft spot for DiMaggio. Everything I’ve ever heard or read about him mentioned only good things. Eventually a picture emerged of a truly kind and decent man.

So, as a Red Sox fan – not only of the current team, but also of the characters that color the team’s storied history – for me, today is a sad day. Each time a Red Sox legend like DiMaggio dies, we lose another tie to our team’s – and our nation’s – past.

Oh and by the way, DiMaggio was a co-founder of the AFL team that would eventually become the New England Patriots. So even if he had been a lifetime .240 hitter with a noodle arm (which he most certainly wasn’t), he still would have died a legend.


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