Joe DiMaggio

Joseph Paul “Joe” DiMaggio (1914–1999) was born in California to Italian immigrant parents. He played thirteen seasons at center field for the New York Yankees between 1936 and 1951, earning an All-Star berth every year and helping the team win ten American League pennants and nine World Series championships. His most famous accomplishment, however, was his fifty-six-game hitting streak in 1941, a record that still stands.

DiMaggio's fame did not stop the federal government from targeting his parents as enemy aliens during World War II, depriving them of their livelihood and imposing a curfew. Artist Kadir Nelson’s portrait of DiMaggio on the 2012 commemorative stamp shows him in a home uniform like the one displayed here, following through on a right-hand swing.

stamp art of Joe DiMaggio during his back swing
Forever (45¢) Joe DiMaggio (MLB All-Stars Issue) approved stamp art by Kadir Nelson, 2012
Scott Catalogue USA 4697a
Loan from United States Postal Service, Postmaster General’s Collection

Baseball fans complained that right-handed hitter DiMaggio appears poised to bat as a lefty, but the artwork is based on a photograph of Joltin’ Joe’s backswing.

refer to caption
Joe DiMaggio New York Yankees rookie home uniform, 1936
Loan from The Stephen Wong Collection

DiMaggio wore this uniform during his spectacular rookie season. By May he was batting .411, and he finished the year with twenty-nine home runs and a World Series championship.

stamp showing Joe DiMaggio swinging a baseball bat

Chief curator Daniel Piazza shares intimate knowledge, little-known facts and secrets about the stories told in “Baseball: America’s Home Run,” highlighting some of the spectacular objects on display, including discussions with key lenders to the exhibition on artifacts never-before displayed for pubic view.

Baseball: America’s Home Run