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Joe DiMaggio Announces Retirement

idimagg001p1On December 11, 1951, Joe DiMaggio, American Major League Baseball center fielder, announced his retirement from the New York Yankees, the team he played on for his entire 13-year career.

DiMaggio joined his brother, Vince, in the Pacific Coast League, playing for the San Francisco Seals in 1932. After a 61-game hitting streak, he led the Seals to winning a PCL title in 1935 and was named the League’s Most Valuable Player. He was sold to the New York Yankees and made his major league debut batting behind Lou Gehrig in 1936. He was soon nicknamed the “Yankee Clipper” for his speed and range in the outfield. During his career, he was a three-time MVP winner and was selected to play in the All-Star Game every year of his 13-year career. He also helped the Yankees to win ten American League pennants and nine World Series championships. His biggest claim to fame is his MLB 56-game hitting streak (May 15 – July 16, 1941), a record he still holds today.

DiMaggio signed a record contract of $100,000 ($981,000 today) in 1949, and became the first baseball player to surpass $100,000 in earnings. Within the next few years, however, DiMaggio’s body began to fail him. He suffered from injuries constantly due to his predisposition to play through the pain. DiMaggio played poorly during his 1951 season because of his recurring ailments, and towards the end of the season a scouting report about DiMaggio written by a Brooklyn Dodgers scout was leaked and published in LIFE.

While the report did not paint DiMaggio’s playing abilities in the best light, most of the report was accurate. It reported that he “could not stop quickly or throw hard,” that runners could steal bases on him easily, and his reflexes had slowed. Even with his physical setbacks, DiMaggio still helped the Yankees win another World Series, hitting a home run in the fourth game. DiMaggio had already accepted that this was the end for him, and many of his teammates brought him bats and balls to sign during what they all knew was his last game.

Going out on a World Series win, DiMaggio held a press conference on December 11, 1951 in which he plainly read a short press release announcing the end of his career. He ended it by saying, “When baseball is no longer fun, it’s no longer a game, and so, I’ve played my last game.” He answered questions, posed for pictures, and when a fuse blew and the Yankee offices went dark, he quietly slipped out.

Joe DiMaggio has been remembered in many ways, including being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955, and his number (5) being retired from the Yankees. He has also been referenced in a number of songs, movies, books, and works of art.

Sources: Wikipedia, PBS, echarta Blog

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Babe Ruth Hits 500 Home Runs

On August 11, 1929, Babe Ruth hit his 500th home run at League Park in Cleveland, Ohio. It was an exciting day for baseball fans everywhere, especially the New York Yankees (for which Ruth was playing for) even though they lost to the Cleveland Indians 6-5. This legendary hit made Babe Ruth (also known as The Bambino and The Sultan of Swat) the inaugural member of the 500 Home Run Club.

Babe Ruth is often credited as the greatest baseball player of all time, winning Most Valuable Player for the American League in 1923 and elected into the Baseball Hall of fame in 1936. After hitting that historic 500th home run, Babe is understood to have approached Detective H.C. Folger saying “I’d kinda like to have that one.”

Police scoured the city for the possessor of the ball that was said to have landed on Lexington Avenue in Cleveland, and found it in the hands of a child. The detective took the child to meet Babe Ruth, who provided an autographed ball and a twenty dollar bill in exchange for the ball that gave him his 500th home run.

Check out The House that Ruth Built to learn more about The Great Bambino.

Sources: Yahoo, ESPN New York

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Derek Jeter’s Birthday

Major League Baseball’s star shortstop Derek Jeter was born on June 26, 1974 in Pequannock Township, New Jersey. He was drafted right out of high school by the New York Yankees in 1992 and has been playing with the team ever since.

Derek Jeter has played 18 seasons with the Yankees since his Major League debut on May 29, 1995. In 1996, Derek Jeter became the starting shortstop for the Yankees, won the Rookie of the Year, and helped his team to the first of five World Series victories.

Throughout his athletic career, Derek Jeter has been included among the ranks of leading hitters and runners within the Major League Baseball organization. His accolades include: 13 All Star selections, 5 Gold Gloves, 5 Silver Sluggers, 2 Hank Aaron Awards, and a Roberto Clemente Award.

Jeter leads the league in hits by a shortstop and holds the record for most hits, games played, stolen bases, and at bats by any New York Yankees player in history.

Happy Birthday Derek Jeter!

 

Sources: Wikipedia, Biography

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