Tom Heinrich, New York Yankee Outfielder 1937-1950, on Joe's talent
Q: What made DiMaggio such a great player?
Well he just was that good. A genius. But the nature of DiMaggio was such that every day he's going to bear down at this game of baseball and give the absolute best that he can do and every day he played that way.
DiMaggio was the was the roughest, hardest slider. When he'd steal a base or try to score on a base hit as he hit home plate, it was going to be close. He would hit the ground harder than anybody else. He maintained his speed right up to the end.
And, I'll tell you, when Mickey dropped the ball in 41, DiMaggio got a base hit. I'm on second, DiMaggio on first. Keller hit a lazy fly ball that hit the screen in Emmett's field. Now, the score on a ball that comes off the wall that's caught by the rightfielder and nobody can score from first base. But there was a little couple of seconds -- the ball came down and hit the concrete up there flat and bounced up in the air. Now that consumes a couple of seconds.
And DiMaggio roared around the bases. When he got to third, Fletcher realized that he might make this. And he gave him the go sign. Now, DiMaggio knows that it's going to be close. I'm already scored. I'm standing there watching Joe coming in. And he hit home plate and I think his body, I think his body went by six feet. That was the speed of him. In other words, I will score on this play. And he knew how close it was supposed to be. It wasn't really that close. But, that's the way he played ball.