Sports Outside the Beltway

Former Red Sox OF Dom Dimaggio dead at 92

He was the youngest and last surviving of the famous baseball brothers. Dom wasn’t a Hall of Famer, but ‘The Little Professor was a very good player. He was a gold glove quality(The awards didn’t begin after Dom retired) centerfielder, better than his more famous brother Joe. As for his offensive skills, Dom was no slouch. He was a career .298 hitter who also had an on base percentage of .383. Perfect skills for a top of the order hitter.

Like so many players of his era, Dom Dimaggio lost some of his prime years due to World War military service. His career may have ended prematurely too. The Red Sox benched the aging but still productive(.294 BA, .371 OBP in 1952) Dimaggio in 1953 so a youth movement could be started. Tom Umphlett never panned out(In spite of his .283 BA and 2nd place finish in the rookie of the year balloting for 1953, the Red Sox traded Umphlett before the 1954 season began.) and Dimaggio decided to retire.

Arguably the Dimaggios were the best brother trio to ever play the game. Now they’re reunited in heaven. RIP Dom.

Dominic DiMaggio, the bespectacled Boston Red Sox center fielder who was overshadowed by his older brother Joe’s Hall of Fame career, died early Friday at his Massachusetts home. He was 92.

DiMaggio was surrounded by his family at his death, according to his wife, Emily. She did not give a cause of death but said that DiMaggio had been ill lately.

“He was the most wonderful, warm, loving man,” his wife of 61 years said. “He adored his children, and we all adored him.”

DiMaggio was a seven-time All-Star who still holds the record for the longest consecutive-game hitting streak in Boston Red Sox history.

Known as the “Little Professor” because of his eyeglasses and 5-foot-9, 168-pound frame, DiMaggio hit safely in 34 consecutive games in 1949. The streak was broken on Aug. 9 when his big brother caught a sinking liner in the eighth inning of a 6-3 Red Sox win over the Yankees.

The younger DiMaggio also had a 27-game hitting streak in 1951, which still ranks as the fifth-longest in Red Sox history. Joe set the major league record with a 56-game hitting streak with the Yankees in 1941.

The oldest of the three center field-playing DiMaggio brothers was Vince, who had a 10-year major league career with five National League teams. Joe died in March 1999; Vince died in October 1986.

Dom DiMaggio spent his entire career with the Red Sox — 10 full seasons plus three games in 1953 — and was teammates and close friends with Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr and Johnny Pesky.

While Dom did not have the offensive numbers of Joe, he was generally regarded as a better defensive player with a stronger arm, although their career fielding percentages are identical.

He was a career .298 hitter with 87 home runs, while Joe was a .325 career hitter with 361 homers. Dom’s baseball career was interrupted for three years (1943-45) by World War II when he served in the Navy, a military obligation that may have cost him induction into the Hall of Fame, Doerr once said.

DiMaggio and Pesky “were really penalized for that, and I think it was kind of a shame in a way because when you look, they have the numbers,” Doerr said in August 2007 during an appearance at Fenway Park.

Dom played a pivotal role in Game 7 of the 1946 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, a heartbreaker for Boston fans. He batted in two runs in the eighth inning to tie the game at 3, but he injured his leg while running the bases and was replaced in center field by Leon Culberson for the ninth.

It was Culberson who fielded Harry Walker’s double and threw it to Pesky during Enos Slaughter’s famous “Mad Dash” from first to home that won the game for the Cardinals.

Many argued that if DiMaggio had still been in center he would have handled the play better and prevented Slaughter from scoring.

“Watching the play had been pure agony for Dominic DiMaggio …” David Halberstam wrote in his 2003 book, “The Teammates.” “His own injury, his own pulled hamstring, Dominic now decided, had been the decisive play of the game.”

After the Red Sox finally won the World Series in 2004, their first since 1918, DiMaggio, Pesky and Doerr were on hand on opening day 2005 to raise the championship banner at Fenway Park.

On June 30, 1950, Dom and Joe DiMaggio homered in the same game, the first time brothers had hit homers in the same game in the majors in 15 years. They played in the outfield together in three All-Star games.

After his playing career, he started a successful company that manufactured upholstery and carpeting for automobiles, which he ran until his retirement in 1983. He remained active in many charitable and civic causes, supporting medical and education institutions, even serving on the board of trustees at St. Anselm’s College in New Hampshire. He also helped found the AFL franchise that eventually became the New England Patriots.

“Dominic DiMaggio was one of the most successful players of his generation in his post-baseball life,” Halberstam wrote in his book. “He had become over the years a man of means, graceful, elegant, and wise.”

DiMaggio grew up in San Francisco, one of nine children born to Sicilian immigrants. His mother was a teacher and his father was a fisherman. He is survived by his wife and three children, Dominic Paul, Peter and Emily.

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