Joe DiMaggio Retires From Baseball

By | December 6, 2021

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Joe DiMaggio in his first year as center fielder for the New York Yankees on October 6, 1936. (Bettmann/Getty Images)

Joseph Paul DiMaggio, also known as the Yankee Clipper, was one of the greatest all-around players in the history of baseball. In 1937, he led the American League in number of home runs scored. In 1939 and 1940, he led the league in batting, with averages of .381 and .352, respectively. From May 15 to July 16, 1941, he hit for 56 games in a row. You don't get those kinds of numbers without taking a few hits as well, though, so on December 11, 1951, Joe DiMaggio retired years before anyone (including himself) expected.

The Beginning Of Baseball For DiMaggio

Joe DiMaggio was born on November 25, 1914. He quit school at the age of 14 and began to play ball at 17, joining his brother, Vincent, in the minor leagues for the San Francisco Seals. The Yankees bought his contract in 1936, and in his first season as a major league player, he batted a .323 and a .346 in the World Series, helping the Yankees beat the New York Giants.

DiMaggio played as a center fielder almost his entire career. He played 13 seasons with the Yankees but lost three seasons from 1943 to 1945, when he joined the army to fight World War II. Throughout his career, DiMaggio won nine out of 10 of his World Series games played.

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DiMaggio in a 1951 issue of Baseball Digest, his last year in baseball. (Unknown author/Wikimedia Commons)

DiMaggio's Achievements

DiMaggio experienced his share of injuries and hindrances in his time as a ball player. Eventually, he could no longer hit or throw without feeling pain in his collarbone along with pain in his right shoulder and right knee. He had to have heel surgery at one point, too, to remove a calcium spur. Even in his last few years played, though, he still proved to be a great ball player. Along with his nine World Series wins, DiMaggio earned the Most Valuable Player Award for the American League three separate years, in 1939, 1941, and 1947.

DiMaggio retired at 36, two years earlier than he'd planned to thanks to the advent of night baseball, which didn't give him the time to rest that his battered body needed. "When baseball is no longer fun, it's no longer a game, and so, I've played my last game of ball," he announced on December 11, 1951. DiMaggio was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955, four years after retirement.