Profiles of Valor
Joseph Paul DiMaggio, born in 1914 in Martinez, California, played baseball for the New York Yankees from 1936-1951 and served as a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army Air Force from 1943-1945. Despite early pleas from his parents to become a fisherman, Joltin’ Joe went on to become one of the greatest baseball players in history.
Joe was not the only DiMaggio in the MLB, his brothers Dom and Vince also played professionally. Over the course of his baseball career, DiMaggio hit an impressive .325 and slugged 361 home runs. In 1941, he hit safely in 56 straight games, a record that still stands today.
During that hitting streak, DiMaggio only struck out five times. He won the American League batting title in 1939 and 1940 and was also voted American League MVP in 1939, 1941, and 1947. DiMaggio was voted an All-Star thirteentimes, from 1936 to 1942 and 1946 to 1951, and played an integral role on Yankees teams that won nine World Series Championships. He was elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955, his third year on the ballot, and was the first player in baseball history to surpass $100,000 in career earnings.
In wake of the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor, DiMaggio’s parents were among the thousands of German, Japanese,and Italian immigrants who were designated as “enemy allies”, meaning they were required to carry ID booklets andcould not travel more than five miles outside of their home without a permit. DiMaggio enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces in 1943 and was stationed in New Jersey, California, and Hawaii during his service, eventually rising to the rank of Sergeant. At one point in his service, DiMaggio, disappointed in his inaction during the war, requested a combatassignment, but was turned down by his superiors. He was medically discharged from the U.S. Army in 1945 due to chronic stomach ulcers. In 1977, Joe DiMaggio was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his impressive career and service.