A LIVING LEGEND
Joe DiMaggio left San Francisco in search of baseball greatness. What he encountered was unparalled fame. By nature, he was a modest man, not questing for popularity, not playing for the bigger salary, but, merely doing justice to a game he loved. He played every game like it was his last, unable to let up, afraid to let his fans, or his teammates, or himself down. His playing style, regarded as one of effortless elegance, mirrored the way he lived. DiMaggio did not see a distinction between the baseball diamond and life. He didn't know any other way to live, any other way to be, than the person he projected each and every day, both on and off the field

When he stepped between the lines, a new man did not emerge. Instead, the man he was shone through in every aspect of his life, a life lead with class and pride. He never asked to be "America's hero", but he accepted the responsibility bestowed upon him by the American public.

"He is no saint, but DiMaggio has carried somthing with him throughout his playing career, throughout his public life-it is called grace." "He has never written a slick autobiography, he has never sat down with Barbara Walters. Through it all, he has just been DiMaggio." -Mike Lupica

And we let him be DiMaggio. We were content with his quiet demeanor, awed by his public prescence. In a sense, we handed DiMaggio our souls, and let him cleanse them for us, playing our game, a game that has come to embody so much of America. Baseball teaches us a humbling lesson, it reminds us that while we strive for perfection, we most often must have to learn to be content with mere achievent. Even Joe DiMaggio failed, and through his failures we learned too, we learned that even heroes falter, and that gave us strength.

"Americans have always responded to imperfect glory or glorious imperfection."(Sklansky and Edgar, 16). "We have always preferred our heores to be not only superhuman, but, also maimed, wounded or somehow incomplete."(Sklansky and Edgar, 16). DiMaggio fit that mold as well. We saw him as a star, but a lonely star, a man removed from all that is common, but a man made by the adoration of those who are common. If ever one man personified the ambiguous "American Ideal", it was Joe DiMaggio. And what is truly remarkable, in fact, in this day and age, unbelievable, is that DiMaggio never tried to be all of these things, he just was.

Robert Frost once wrote-"Some baseball is the fate of all of us."

This most American of sports speaks as few other human activities can to our country's sense of itself (Sklansky and Edgar), and no ballplayer, ever, will talk to the nation with such a soothing voice like the way Joe DiMaggio did.

CONTINUING THE LEGACY

"It is another afternoon in the sun for Joe DiMaggio, one more in a lifetime of sunny days. Old ball players, some of them famous once, move stiffly about the grassy infield at Fort Lauderdale Stadium, throwing, hitting, and jogging. They seem quite happy to see one anoTher, happy to have another baseball afternoon to themselves. Every few minutes, they stop to look into the dugout where sits DiMaggio, now in his own elegant twilight..."-Mike Lupica. Then comes the ritual of the "Old-timer's game", the old players walk to home plate with the same confident swagger they had in their youth. They swing familiar swings, a bit slower maybe, but still the crowd loses itself in reverie and rememberance. When DiMaggio takes his turn, he cracks the ball hard. Lacing a solid hit toward left field, he jogs smoothly to first base. "Standing at first, he was serious and intent. He was in a baseball game now, a meaningless contest, to be sure, but the pride was obvious in his carriage-the determination of the man, the compulsive drive to excel, to triumph. Joe DiMaggio was home(Allen 217)."

Humble Beginnings| Becoming a Yankee| The Streak| Marilyn Monroe| Yankee Days| Being Joe DiMaggio| The Toast of the Town| The End of an Era| Has Joe D. gone anywhere?| The last inning| *A FINAL NOTE*

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