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Joe Dimaggio: The Hero's Life | Timeline

Timeline of Joe Dimaggio's Life


February: Baseball’s American League is founded.

August: Triggered by the murder of Archduke Francis Ferdinand in Sarajevo, European nations stumble into war. By the end of August, 17 million men are involved in what will become the bloodiest war in history.

November: On the 25th of November, Joseph Paul DiMaggio is born in Martinez, California. He is the eighth of nine children of Giuseppe and Rosalie DiMaggio, a Sicilian couple who immigrated to America at the turn of the century.

October: For the first time, a World Series game is broadcast on radio. Broadcasters for station WJZ of Newark, New Jersey describe each play to an estimated five million people along the eastern seaboard.

May: Charles Lindbergh is the first person to fly across the Atlantic solo. He lands in Le Bourget Airport to a waiting throng of 100,000 Parisians. The 33-hour flight in the Spirit of St. Louis makes Lindbergh an overnight hero.

September: The 32-year-old Babe Ruth hits home run number 60. All the people in attendance wave handkerchiefs in his honor.

October: After climbing to record heights, the stock market collapses, launching a worldwide economic crisis. The infamous day, October 24, is called Black Thursday. One report says that at least 11 market speculators commit suicide after hearing the news.

Spring: The 16-year-old DiMaggio drops out of Galileo High. He takes a job at an orange-juice bottling plant, which he described as "a lousy way to make a living." He later works as a laborer at the docks and in a cannery. He then tries his hand at delivering groceries and loading trucks. He begins spending more time playing baseball at the dairy-wagon parking lot near San Francisco’s wharf

May: The tallest building ever constructed, the 102-story Empire State Building, is crowned in New York City. It immediately becomes New York City’s signature building.

March: Joe’s older brother Vince makes the roster of the minor league team, the San Francisco Seals. When a shortstop is needed later in the season, Vince recommends his kid brother, Joe.

October: In his first full season with the San Francisco Seals, DiMaggio hits .340, pounding out 28 home runs and knocking in 169 runs. He also puts together a 61-game hitting streak.

November: Seals owner Charlie Graham sells DiMaggio to the Yankees for $25,000 and five players. The one condition is that the 19-year-old center fielder spend the 1935 season playing again with San Francisco.

February: A declining George Herman "Babe" Ruth, who helped make baseball a national obsession in the 1920s, is released by the Yankees at age 39.

May: President Roosevelt pushes a button in the White House that lights up Crosley Field in Cincinnati for a game between the Reds and the Phillies. The first illuminated night game in the major league begins

May: On May 3, DiMaggio goes 3 for 6 in his first game with the Yankees. He will hit 29 home runs for the season, still a New York Yankee rookie record.

July: At Boston’s old Braves Field, DiMaggio becomes the first rookie ever to play in an All-Star game.

October: In his rookie season, DiMaggio takes the Yankees to the World Series. He hits a scorching .346 in his first World Series against the Giants and the Yankees are again baseball champions, the first time since 1932.

June: Heavyweight fighter Joe Louis beats heavyweight champion Jim Braddock to win the heavyweight boxing championship of the world.

April: DiMaggio holds out to receive a higher salary than the $25,000 he is offered -- and eventually accepts. In his first game back, Yankee fans boo his every move. Says DiMaggio: "You would have thought I kidnapped the Lindbergh baby."

May: Lou Gehrig benches himself "for the good of the team" after playing in 2,130 consecutive games. An examination at the Mayo Clinic reveals he is suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a degenerative nerve disease. On July 4, at Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day, the contented Iron Horse tells the crowd: "Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth."

November: DiMaggio marries actress Dorothy Arnold. More than 20,000 fans mob the San Francisco cathedral to get a glimpse of America’s former Number One Bachelor. She is 21; DiMaggio is six days shy of 25.

May 14: DiMaggio goes hitless in a 4-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians. He won’t have another hitless game for more than two months running.

June: Lou Gehrig dies.

July: On the second day of July, DiMaggio homers off Dick Newsome of the Boston Red Sox, breaking the major league consecutive game hitting streak of 44 set by Willie Keeler in 1897.

July: On the 17th of July, DiMaggio goes hitless. His hitting streak is finished at 56 games. "Well," says DiMaggio after the game. "I’m glad it’s over."

October: On October 23, Dorothy gives birth to Joe Jr., 10 days after Paul Simon (of Simon and Garfunkel) is born in Newark, New Jersey.

February: DiMaggio enlists in the U.S. Army in San Francisco. He spends much of his time playing baseball and shuffling in and out of hospitals to treat his ulcer. He will miss three seasons during the prime of his career.

October: Dorothy Arnold files for divorce. "We had a home," Dorothy says later. "But he was never there." Her divorce is granted in early 1944. She receives $500 a month in alimony and $150 in child support.

September: DiMaggio is discharged from the Army.

April: On April 15, Jackie Robinson takes the field to play first base at Ebbets Field for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He becomes the first black man in modern baseball history to play in a major league game. Brooklynites yell "Jackie, Jackie, Jackie," cheering the son of a sharecropper and the grandson of a slave.

September: The first World Series is seen on television. The game is broadcast from Yankee Stadium, where the Yankees are hosting the National League champion Brooklyn Dodgers. The Yankees win the series 4-3.

June: Babe Ruth, dying from throat cancer, makes his last appearance at Yankee Stadium. The fans roar as he walks out to home plate using a baseball bat as a cane.

February: DiMaggio signs baseball’s first $100,000-a-year contract.

June: DiMaggio re-enters the line-up after having not swung a bat for over two months. He hits a remarkable four homers in three games against the Red Sox to help the Yankees clinch the pennant.

June: On June 18, Rosalie DiMaggio dies of throat cancer. This comes after the loss of DiMaggio’s father less than a year earlier.

October: Joe Louis is knocked out by heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano in the eighth round of their heavyweight championship fight. Louis’ career is over.

October: The Yankees beat the Giants in the World Series, four games to two. In the second game, in the fifth inning, a fly ball is driven deep between center and right field. The rookie races for the shot, but is waved off by DiMaggio, who catches the fly. The rookie’s spike catches on the cover of a drain in the grass. His knee tears. The rookie’s name is Mickey Mantle.

December: DiMaggio, 37, announces his retirement. "I just don’t have it anymore," he says.

Ernest Hemingway publishes "Old Man and the Sea," a story of an old fisherman battling a fish. He writes, "Do you believe the great DiMaggio would stay with a fish as long as I will stay with this one?. . . I am sure he would because he is young and strong. Also, his father was a fisherman."

January: Two years after going out on a blind date, DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe are married at San Francisco City Hall on January 14. It is the second marriage for both partners.

October: After only nine months of marriage, DiMaggio and Monroe divorce.

July: DiMaggio enters the Baseball Hall of Fame.

May: Cassius Clay floors Sonny Liston in 48 seconds in the first round after beating Liston the year before. Clay, a Muslim, wears a robe marked "Muhammad Ali" and calls his upset a triumph of the "righteous life."

November: Joe spends seventeen days and nights touring American positions in Vietnam with Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds, Tony Conigliaro of the Boston Red Sox and Jerry Coleman, his former teammate on the Yankees. "Let me assure you," he said upon returning. "Those kids out there have guts."

Paul Simon pens the song "Mrs. Robinson," which is released with the movie "The Graduate." The lines, "Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?/Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you" become part of the Yankee Clipper’s legend. DiMaggio later confides to a friend, "I’ve never been able to figure out what that song means."

April: The Yankee Clipper begins two years of service as a coach and consultant for the Oakland A’s.

Spring: For baseball’s 100th anniversary, a nationwide vote is taken among fans and sportswriters to choose baseball’s "Greatest Living Player." They pick DiMaggio. (The greatest player of all time goes to Babe Ruth.) During the same year, the Yankees add a DiMaggio plaque in center field next to two other Yankee immortals: Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

DiMaggio does his first Bowery Savings Bank ad for television. He follows it soon after with ads for Mr. Coffee and their coffee-making machines. Kids on the street call him "Mr. Coffee."

April: Hank Aaron hits home run 715 at the age of 40, breaking Babe Ruth’s record of 714 home runs. His mother and father watch in the stands. Aaron is the last major league player to have played in the Negro Leagues.

September: Ronald Wilson Reagan is elected the 40th president of the United States. He is 69-years-old, three years DiMaggio’s senior.

December: DiMaggio agrees to attend a state dinner at the White House. He sneaks in a baseball and asks Maureen Reagan if Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev will sign the ball. The next day, DiMaggio watches as Reagan appears on television with a baseball in his hands. Reagan and Gorbachev sign the ball. DiMaggio says of the event, "I was a witness to history."

September: DiMaggio makes his last appearance at Yankee Stadium. Former teammate Phil Rizzuto presents him with replacements for the eight World Series rings that were stolen from DiMaggio’s hotel room in 1960.

March: Following a five-month battle with lung cancer, DiMaggio dies in his Hollywood, Florida, home on March 8, 1999. He is 84 years old.

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