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Tuesday, October 5, 2021
Italian American Heritage Month: Joe DiMaggio
Though this is not generally well known, Italian American baseball players actually weathered their share of ethnically charged abuse in the early 20th century. For example, a 1939 Life profile of Joe DiMaggio made sure to note that the New York Yankees star "never reeks of garlic." Of Course, Joe DiMaggio was a ballplayer of extraordinary ability and dapper taste. He was always impeccable in his personal appearance and unassuming in his demeanor. And, by 1941, when he reeled off his famous 56-game hitting streak, he had transcended his first-generation roots to become a hero to Americans of all stripes. He was The Yankee Clipper. By the time Joltin' Joe wrapped up his career in 1951 he had three MVP Awards and nine World Series titles with the Yanks. Indeed, his iconic status was cemented by a shout-out from Ernest Hemingway in The Old Man and the Sea and an A-list marriage to Marilyn Monroe. Even decades later he was immortalized in a famous song by Simon and Garfunkel. No question about it -- he paved the way for many Italian Americans who followed him in all walks of life.
Part of a month long series spotlighting a different accomplished Italian American every day during Italian American Heritage Month.