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DiMaggio, Joseph Paul, S/Sgt.
Home Town Martinez, California
Last Address Hollywood, Florida
Date of Passing Mar 08, 1999
Location of Interment Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery - Colma, California
Wall/Plot Coordinates Plot: Section I, Row 11 Area 6/7
Last Known Activity Hall of Fame Major League Baseball Player. Born Giuseppe (Joseph) Paolo (Paul) DiMaggio, he was the eighth of nine children born to Sicilian immigrants in the small fishing village of Martinez, California. After a move to San Francisco where fishing was deemed better, Dominic, the ninth was born. Joe, Dominic and older brother Vince all became Major League Baseball players. His father supported the family, along with the help of his older sons, with a small fishing boat (during World War II his parents were deemed, 'enemy aliens' and had to carry photo ID booklets at all times and not allowed to travel more than 5 miles from their home and his father's boat was seized and impounded for the duration of the war). Joe DiMaggio grew up playing sandlot baseball in the North Beach area of San Francisco. He never finished high school, instead he joined the San Francisco Seals in the Pacific Coast League when he was 17. He was playing semi-pro ball when Vince, playing with the San Francisco Seals, talked his manager into letting his younger brother fill in at shortstop. He hit a home run his first time at bat, and the following year, he electrified baseball with his play while hitting in 61 consecutive games. He tore the ligaments in his left knee in an ordinary street accident and faced a dismal baseball future as no Major League team showed any interest in a signing. However, the New York Yankees took a chance with the stipulation he remain another year with the Seals. In the 1934 season he batted .398 with 154 RBI's and 34 home runs as the Seals won the Pacific Coast League title. He made his debut as a center fielder in 1936 batting ahead of Lou Gehrig. From a sensational rookie season, Dimaggio when on to a thirteen year career, leading the Yankees to 10 pennants, nine World Series Championships, and recorded a 56-game hitting streak, a feted record that is considered to be nearly unbreakable. He amassed 361 homers, averaged 118 RBI annually, compiled a .325 lifetime batting average, and struck out only 369 times while winning two batting crowns and three Most Valuable Player awards. Mounting injuries contributed to a sub-par 1951 season, and in the off-season he announced his retirement. He enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II but his fame forced the service to keep him out of harm's way. Joe DiMaggio spent his 31-month stint as a physical education instructor. Married twice, his first ended in divorce during the war years. His second fabled marriage to actress and Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe, opposed by his family, ended after only nine months and excommunication from the church. In his post season life, he worked for a time as a batting coach for the Yankees during spring training and then was employed as a military post-exchange supplier. He did a series of commercials for a bank and became a credible spokesperson for "Mr. Coffee" coffee makers, with the commercials being seen for many years on national television. He made many appearances on the Donna Reed Show. In 1999 he was scheduled to throw out the first ball at Yankee Stadium, the season opener a month away. Joe never made the event, as he died of complications from lung cancer surgery at his home in Holly wood, Florida. His private funeral was held at the Church of St. Peters and Paul where he was first married, located in the Italian neighborhood of North Beach where he grew up and played baseball. Interment followed in the family plot at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, California. Fans in New York City had a chance to bid him goodbye at a Memorial Mass at Saint Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan conducted by New York Catholic Archbishop John Cardinal O'Connor, before a packed house overflowing with celebrities, including Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. At the urging of Cardinal O'Connor, New Yorkers again gave Joe DiMaggio a standing ovation. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955. In 1969, DiMaggio was named the greatest living player at a gala celebrating baseball's 100th anniversary. In 1992, the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital opened in Miami, the result of millions of dollars raised by the former slugger. He was the subject in the song 'Bloody Mary' in the Broadway play 'South Pacific.' Les Brown recorded the hit 'Joltin Joe DiMaggio' during his famous hitting streak. Folk-rick singing act Simon and Garfunkel honored him in their song 'Mrs Robinson' in 1970, from motion picture "The Graduate." For his courage in playing hurt, Ernest Hemingway immortalized Joe DiMaggio in the novella, 'The Old Man and the Sea.' A marker to DiMaggio was added to the famous baseball monument farm in center field in Yankee Stadium in 1999 while his famous number 5 was retired.