A Look at Dom DiMaggio

Evan BrunellFeatured ColumnistJanuary 15, 2009

While we wait for the Jason Varitek saga to end, I went digging around in my unwritten entries archive and found one that I wrote a couple years ago that had yet to be published.

It's a profile of Dom DiMaggio, originally penned for the now-defunct Top 100 Red Sox, a site that Tim and I plan to restore to glory at some point.

So let's take a walk back through time...


Dom DiMaggio, OF, No. 7 (1942-1953)
.298/.383/.419, 1,680 hits, 87 HR, 100 SB, 1,046 R in 11 seasons

Dom DiMaggio, The Little Professor, may be sitting in the Hall of Fame if not for missing his age 26-28 seasons to fight in World War II.

DiMaggio, the brother of Joe DiMaggio, broke in at age 21 as the Red Sox centerfielder after spending three years with the PCL's San Francisco Seals.

He hit .301/.367/.464 and could always be counted on for 30-40 doubles a year and stolen bases in the double digits, although he was always getting caught. He has 100 career SBs, but was caught 62 times.

DiMaggio was an effective leadoff hitter who never struck out more than 68 times (in 1950 at age 33), putting him and Johnny Pesky as constant threats to get a hit. DiMaggio was also a tremendously gifted outfielder and led the AL in assists three times and twice in double plays and putouts.

He tied a record by recording at least 400 putouts four times. For 30 years, his 1948 records of 503 putouts and 526 total chances stood the test of time, and his range factor (even in his late years) were always superb. (I can't help but think of Jacoby Ellsbury as a clone of Dom DiMaggio.)

DiMaggio also holds the club record for the longest hitting streak, the streak resting at 34 games which was set in 1949. Of course, his brother holds the major league record. His brother wouldn't have any part of Dom showing him up, as Joe made an outstanding catch to end Dom's hitting streak at 34.

In Game 7 of the 1946 World Series, he doubled to drive in two runs, which tied the game 3-3 with two out in the eighth inning. He twisted his ankle when he arrived at second base and had be removed for a pinch-runner.

In the bottom of the eighth, Harry Walker, who would later have Johnny Pesky as a coach, doubled to center field, where Dom's replacement had difficulty running it down.

This double scored Enos Slaughter in his "Mad Dash" to win the World Series. If DiMaggio had stayed in the game, the double would have either been caught or Slaughter would have held up at third (Slaughter has verified this).

DiMaggio's highest walk total came in 1948 when he hit .285/.383/.401 with 101 walks. His highest runs scored total came at age 33, when he scored 131 runs en route to a career best .328/.414/.452 mark.

DiMaggio was a seven-time All-Star, first appearing in his sophomore year of 1941 and finished as high as ninth in the MVP voting in 1946. He appeared in the MVP voting a total of six times.

At the age of 35, DiMaggio hit .294/.371/.377, then started off on the bench in 1953, retiring after three games, going 1-for-3 in those games.

If he had played through the war and continued playing instead of retiring, there is little doubt in the minds of many that he would have made the Hall of Fame.

He led the AL in games played in 1948, at bats twice in 1948 and 1951, plate appearances three times in 1942, 1948 and 1951, runs in 1950 and 1951, triples in 1950, and hit by pitches in 1941.

DiMaggio's staunchest supporter was Ted Williams, who campaigned long and hard for DiMaggio to be inducted in the Hall of Fame.

Despite a spate of interest from the Veteran's Committee, DiMaggio's best chances of making it died with The Splendid Splinter.