Joe DiMaggio

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In 1951, Joe DiMaggio retired from baseball and became known to generations of Americans as Marilyn Monroe's husband and Mr. Coffee. The former outfielder can be credited with changing and revolutionizing how his autograph was sold and marketed. A smart businessman, who kept the first dollar he earned, DiMaggio was a staple on the autograph circuit for much of the 1980s and 1990s. Through it all, his autograph hardly changed in appearance from the 1940s until his death in 1999. Fans and collectors were always treated to a beautiful signature of DiMaggio, who signed his name legibly on every item he signed.

His autograph went through developing stages early in his life, when he was still wrestling with exactly how to sign his name. While his signature went through some changes in the 1940s, it remained almost the same throughout his life. As the years progressed, especially after the 1970s, DiMaggio's long and looping "g"s in his last name became smaller but, overall, his autograph remained a work of art. Vintage material of DiMaggio is not as scarce as some contemporaries of his period. DiMaggio was constantly besieged by fans to sign autographs and was typically gracious, signing his name to baseballs and autograph books.

As was a common practice with major league players, DiMaggio employed the services of clubhouse attendants to sign team baseballs from time to time and, for a short period during the late 1970s and 1980s, his sister would sign his fan mail.

A legendary Yankee and member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, DiMaggio's autograph is an important part of any collection.

Subject Profile

Joseph Paul DiMaggio (1914-1999) is considered one of the greatest hitters and center fielders in New York Yankees history and the history of Major League Baseball. Joe began his professional career with the California Golden Seals of the Pacific Coast League. At the request of brother, Vince, the Seals inserted Joe as a replacement at the shortstop position where he impressed with his glove, but more importantly at the plate batting .340 with 259 hits and 28 home runs in 187 games as a rookie. That same year, 1933, DiMaggio set a PCL record hitting safely in 61-consecutive games from May 17 to July 25. The New York Yankees soon came calling and purchased Joe D. for $25,000 and five players, but the Seals would retain DiMaggio's services through the 1935 season. The move proved wise for both the Seals and DiMaggio who hit .398 with 154 RBI and 34 home runs while leading the Seals to the 1935 Pacific Coast League championship.

Seemingly for the beginning, the Yankees were fortunate to have a host of Hall of Fame talent on their rosters, and had one superstar standout from Babe Ruth to Lou Gehrig and then to Joe DiMaggio. He debuted in 1936, batting ahead of Gehrig, and helped lead the Bronx Bombers to the 1936 championship as well as the next three (1936-1939). "Joltin' Joe" made the American League All-Star team as a rookie and every year he spent in Major League Baseball (13 total). After leading the American League in runs (151), home runs (46) and slugging percentage (.673) while also finishing third in batting average (.346), Joe finished second in AL MVP voting in 1937, his sophomore season. Three years later, DiMaggio broke through to capture his first of three AL MVP awards (1937, 1941, 1947) after hitting .381 and finishing second in the AL in RBI (126) and slugging percentage (.671). From May 15, 1941 to July 17, 1941, Joe DiMaggio wowed fans as he set one of the greatest records in the history of baseball with a 56-game hitting streak. He had already set the PCL record for longest hitting streak in 1935, and nearly matched it in a Major League uniform. It is widely considered one of the "unbreakable" records along with Cy Young's 511 career wins, and potentially Nolan Ryan’s 5,714 strikeouts. During those championship seasons, Joe batted .341 and averaged 198 hits including 34 home runs and 140 RBI. DiMaggio’s performance at the plate notwithstanding, he was equally great in the field and on the base paths. Yogi Berra once quipped that Joe D. "never did anything wrong on the field. I'd never seen him dive for a ball, everything was a chest-high catch and he never walked off the field." He was an outstanding fielder, retiring with a .978 fielding percentage. In 1947, he posted only a single error in 631 chances.

As did many other players from the 1940s, DiMaggio lost three years of the prime years of his career to service in the United States Army Air Force, though he spent his service time in the States as a physical trainer and playing baseball. Upon his return from the service, the "Yankee Clipper" barely missed a beat as he hit .290 with 146 hits, 25 home runs and 95 RBI. He won his third AL MVP award in 1947 after leading the American League in home runs (39) and RBI (125) while batting .320. Hall of Fame Red Sox Ted Williams referred to DiMaggio as “the greatest all-around player I ever saw.” The Yankees won the 1947 World Series with DiMaggio at the heart of their order and he then led them through the first half of their record setting five-year championship streak. He retired following the 1951 season and the Bomber went on to win the next two MLB titles. In total, Joe D. won nine World Series championships (1936-1939, 1941, 1947, 1949-1951), was a three-time American League Most Valuable Player and was beamed to 13 AL All-Star teams. Joe DiMaggio finished his stunning career with 2,214 hits, 361 home runs, 1,537 RBI and a .325 batting average. In 13 seasons with the New York Yankees, Joe DiMaggio struck out a mere 369 times. “Joltin’ Joe” DiMaggio was not only a baseball player, but also an American icon during the 1950s and 1960s, from marrying American’s sweetheart Marilyn Monroe to being immortalized in song by Simon and Garfunkel. Joe DiMaggio continues to hold one of the “unbreakable” records in baseball when he hit in 56 consecutive games in 1941. “The Yankee Clipper” was the middle of three DiMaggio brothers, Vince and Dom, to play in the Major Leagues. Joseph Paul DiMaggio was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955.