Dimaggio: The Last American Knight

Joseph Durso, Author
Joseph Durso, Author Little Brown and Company $22.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-316-19730-4
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Joe DiMaggio was born near San Francisco in 1914, the son of Italian immigrants. With the help of his brother Vince, who had already turned pro, he secured a position with the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League. Although he led the league in almost every offensive category, a bum knee scared off many clubs until the New York Yankees took a chance and purchased him for $25,000. DiMaggio made his debut with the Yankees in 1936, leading them to the first of four consecutive pennants. Durso, a sportswriter for the New York Times, presents the events that made the Hall of Famer's career: his 56-game hitting streak in 1941; his three MVP awards; and his play in 10 World Series. Durso also examines the man behind the Yankee Clipper: the tough negotiator; the lonely, insecure autocrat who often felt betrayed; and, after baseball, the spokesperson for the Bowery Bank and Mr. Coffee. The author also reviews his marriages, the first to Dorothy Arnold, the mother of his only child, a son; and then to Marilyn Monroe. The Monroe-DiMaggio marriage of nine months was fraught with jealousy on DiMaggio's part, and Durso reports that their relationship hit the skids during the filming of The Seven Year Itch. Even 33 years after her death, DiMaggio, who did not remarry, remains devoted to her memory, sending flowers three times a week to her crypt. A solid if not revelatory bio about an American icon who is uncomfortable with that status. Photos. (June)
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