Books by Dick Johnson

DIMAGGIO by Dick Johnson
Released: Dec. 7, 1995

A meticulously researched and occasionally moving biography of the man judged by many to be the greatest baseballer ever. Although his on-field exploits were well known and highly praised by admirers ranging from Casey Stengel to Ernest Hemingway to Paul Simon, Joe DiMaggio was always something of an enigma to his adoring American public. Here, in text and a collection of rare photographs, DiMaggio emerges as a ballplayer of unmatched elegance whose growth as an athlete far outpaced his social growth. This early relative immaturity coupled with prejudice against Italian- Americans, still prevalent in the 1930s, helped set DiMaggio at a distance from his fans. Yet due to his immense prowess, Joltin' Joe quickly became the game's biggest draw since Babe Ruth. Throughout his career, DiMaggio exhibited a less tangible greatness than the Babe or even the contemporary with whom he is most often paired, Ted Williams (who wrote the foreword to this volume and who is the subject of a 1991 illustrated life by Johnson and Stout). Apart from his 56-game hitting streak in 1941 (a record that still stands) and his nine World Series and ten American League pennants in 13 seasons, DiMaggio set few records. But as Luke Salisbury and Tom Boswell point out in essays contributed to this volume, statistics mean little in assessing Joe DiMaggio. As a symbol of the game in an uncertain era that began during the Depression and ended at the dawn of the Cold War, DiMaggio was a constant and comforting presence for a nation that found little comfort elsewhere. Joe's life away from the game kept him in the limelight- -he was briefly wed to a rising starlet named Marilyn Monroe and later was a baseball instructor and a pitchman of outstanding success (in the '70s, kids knew him as ``Mr. Coffee''). Today, DiMaggio appears to be a man at peace with both himself and his legend. In their thoughtful treatment, the authors make it clear that he has earned that peace. (180 b&w photos) Read full book review >