Joe DiMaggio, born on November 25, 1914, was one of history’s most celebrated and revered baseball players. He had a relatively unremarkable childhood until he made it big in the world of baseball in his late teens. After playing for his hometown’s minor league, he migrated to the major league, playing for the world-renowned New York Yankees. DiMaggio made baseball history, breaking several records and being regarded as one of baseball’s greatest players. Although he had his share of controversy, he left a lasting legacy — a life full of kindness and compassion. Help us celebrate his birthday here today!
Joe DiMaggio was born Joseph Paul DiMaggio on November 25, 1914, in Martinez, California. He was one of baseball’s most iconic stars and his was a name even today’s young generation recognizes. His parents, Giuseppe and Rosalia, were immigrants from Sicily. The family moved to San Francisco when DiMaggio was a toddler. He picked up baseball at the age of 10 and left formal schooling after completing junior high school. DiMaggio began playing baseball semi-professionally in 1931.
The athlete made his professional baseball debut the following year, playing for the San Francisco Seals. His contract was purchased by the New York Yankees in 1934 although he remained with the San Francisco Seals for another year before moving over to the New York Yankees and was named the minor league’s most valuable player (M.V.P.) before switching teams. He made his baseball major league debut with the New York Yankees in 1936 and earned his third most valuable player award the following year.
In 1949, he signed a $100,000 contract with the New York Yankees, which made him the first player to reach $100,000 in earnings at the time. DiMaggio retired from playing baseball professionally in 1951 at the age of 37, owing in large part to a series of injuries he had sustained during his professional baseball career. About his retirement announcement, DiMaggio said, “I have reached the stage where I can no longer produce…When baseball is no longer fun, it’s no longer a game, and so, I’ve played my last game.” Four years later, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. In 1969, he was named baseball’s greatest living player. Briefly married to Hollywood movie star Marilyn Monroe, he died on March 8, 1999 — a victim of lung cancer.
The athlete makes his semi-professional baseball debut.
He makes his minor league baseball debut with the San Francisco Seals.
DiMaggio inks a contract with the major league baseball team, the New York Yankees.
He makes his major league baseball debut with the New York Yankees.
DiMaggio becomes the first baseball player to earn $100,000 from a contract.
DiMaggio is formally inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Why We Love Joe DiMaggio
He was a philanthropist
DiMaggio was incredibly passionate about helping children. He established the Joe DiMaggio’s Children’s Hospital (which operates to this day) for which he had raised over $4 million.
He was caring and kind
DiMaggio displayed a remarkable willingness to help others. He has been cited by geneticist Mary-Claire King as the reason she was able to discover a gene that causes breast and ovarian cancer because he babysat her child so that she could fly to Washington, where she received the grant to conduct her research study.
He was patriotic
DiMaggio enlisted in the U.S. Air Force two years before the end of the Second World War and eventually became a sergeant. He wanted to assume a combat role to help his country fight the war. His request was denied, however, and he was honorably discharged owing to health issues.
5 Surprising Facts
He had many siblings
The baseball player had eight siblings.
His Italian name
His first name in Italian was Giuseppe Paolo (Joseph Paul).
He could have been a fisherman
DiMaggio’s father had relocated the family to the San Francisco Bay area hoping his sons would become fishermen.
His brothers were also athletes
DiMaggio’s brothers Vince and Dom were also major league baseball players.
His nickname was based on a plane
DiMaggio was dubbed the Yankee Clipper by Arch McDonald, a stadium announcer, because of DiMaggio’s range and speed which was likened to a Pan American Airways plane.
Joe DiMaggio FAQs
What were Joe DiMaggio’s last words?
DiMaggio’s last words were: “I’ll finally get to see Marilyn.”
Did Joe DiMaggio go to Marilyn Monroe’s funeral?
He did — he even orchestrated her funeral.
Did Joe DiMaggio smoke?
Yes, the athlete was a lifelong heavy smoker and underwent surgery for lung cancer.
Joe DiMaggio’s birthday dates