The great Joe DiMaggio still holds fascination for modern fans.
Baseball in the first half of the 20th century was indeed the national pastime. Whether it was the major league teams, players and game, the minor leagues with their future stars, or the local sandlot team, baseball was king. Winter taps into this fervor for this brief but thorough biography. From the beginning, Joe was determined not to become a fisherman like his father. Baseball would be his way out. Winter covers all the highlights of DiMaggio’s remarkable career, including his amazing, still unbroken hitting streaks, contextualizing it against the Depression and the coming war. He describes Joe’s quiet, almost taciturn demeanor and how it did nothing to impede his stature as a national hero. The narrative notes how DiMaggio’s every deed was covered in depth in newspapers and on radio, how he earned his nicknames, “Joltin’ Joe” and “the Yankee Clipper,” and how he even became the subject of a hit song. Even DiMaggio’s later marriage to Marilyn Monroe is remarked on for its joining of two of the most famous icons in America. Ransome’s detailed watercolors beautifully convey DiMaggio’s persona and his baseball prowess with just the right combination of accuracy and nostalgia.
Hero worship abounds, but even within this context, the book scores a home run. (author’s note, stats, sources) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)