Joe McCarthy decided that Lefty Gomez would be Joe DiMaggio's father figure. He would be his big brother. He would be the guy that would lead him through the perils of adjusting to the major leagues.
Lefty Gomez was just a wonderful, warm, funny, marvelous human being who happened to be a great pitcher, a hall of fame pitcher. But he understood that baseball was a joyous way to make a living. And it was not a difficult profession and you actually got paid money. And it was considered good money in the late 20s and early 30s.
And so he tried to lead DiMaggio -- this incredibly shy, introverted, quiet, withdrawn, insecure person -- through the perils of his early fame and through the perils of the attention that a great athlete would get in New York from the print media.
And Lefty was with DiMaggio almost at all times. On the road, at home, whenever Joe would have a bad day and he would sulk about an occasional 0 for 4. DiMaggio thought an 0 for 4 was the end of the world. And Gomez understood that the season was 154 games long and even Babe Ruth had a couple of bad days. Even Lou Gehrig, their teammate, had a couple of bad days.
So he helped DiMaggio through those bad days. And whenever Joe was down, Lefty would just kid him about things, would make fun of him, would sort of point out to DiMaggio that he was a great young player and that he could handle these characters from the press.
And it became a very warm and wonderful relationship. And I think a lot of DiMaggio's early success was really Lefty's doings.