As a Red Sox fan, I was bred to dislike the Yankees. But when I was 9 years old my Little League team was the Yankees and it was my first uniform that had a number on it. Although I never saw him, I chose number 5 because that was Joe DiMaggio’s uniform number.
My knowledge of DiMaggio at age 9 was limited mostly to the old guy selling Mr. Coffee on television, but even as a kid I knew DiMaggio was one of the greats – also, the smaller the number, the smaller the size, and I couldn’t squeeze into #3.
As I got older I found more to admire in DiMaggio the ball player. I love the stat from 1941. That was the year he hit in 56 straight games. Then the day after the streak was broken, he started another 16 game hitting streak . Even more amazing to me about that year is that he only struck out 13 times in 621 plate appearances.
But my favorite DiMaggio quote comes from 1947. In 1947 DiMaggio was already a God like figure, in fact he only had 4 season left before he retired. In September when the Yankees had again wrapped up the pennant, DiMaggio was still out there everyday even though the games didn’t mean anything. New York sports writer Jimmy Cannon asked him why, to which DiMaggio responded, “I always think, there might be someone out in the stands who’s never seen me play.”
That’s a great thought. If the grandstands were filled with people watching your today, would you be remembered like Joe DiMaggio is, or would you be more like Minnie Mendoza?