“Joltin’” Joe DiMaggio, the eighth of nine children, was born in 1914 to Italian-immigrant parents in Martinez, California. A year later, the DiMaggio family, which claims two other Major League centerfielders (Dom and Vince), moved to San Francisco.

Although he would make his name as one of the greatest New York Yankees of all time, DiMaggio got his start in 1932 playing professional baseball for his hometown San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League (PCL). In 1933, DiMaggio’s first full season with the Seals, a candy company called Zee-Nut released the first DiMaggio trading card.

Zee-Nut printed two DiMaggio cards in 1934, one showing him batting, the other featuring a fielding pose. The company also printed DiMaggio cards in 1935 and 1936 before it stopped publishing cards of PCL players altogether in 1938. The Zee-Nut cards were black and white and are notable for the misspelling DiMaggio’s name on the front as “J. DeMaggio,” which was also true for Zee-Nut cards made for Joe’s brothers.

The Zee-Nut cards were tall (3 ½”) and narrow (1 ¾”). Although the cards were not dated, a perforated coupon on the bottom of each card had expiration date, which is how collectors today can determine a Zee-Nut card’s year.

DiMaggio was extremely successful in the PCL. In his first full season he had a 61-game hitting streak—five games longer than his hitting streak with the Yankees in 1941, which is still the Major League record. He finished the 1933 season batting .340 with 28 homeruns and an astounding 169 runs batted in.

Although his first full season with the Yankees was in 1936, the Goudey Gum Company did not issue a DiMaggio rookie card until 1938. There were actually two DiMaggio cards produced that year. Both feature an oversize, hand-tinted photograph of DiMaggio’s head atop a hand-drawn body of the slugger with a bat in his hands. One card was dominated by this caricature alone, but a second card used the same image surrounded by a series of cartoons about DiMaggio’s life.

The cartoons were intended as jokey commentaries on DiMaggio’s meteoric rise in the big leagues. For example, “$25,000 a year. Pretty fair salary for a young fellow!” reads one ...

In 1940, Play Ball made its DiMaggio card the #1 card in its set. As with the 1938 Goudeys, the Play Ball cards suffered from toning irregularities, so finding this black-and-white DiMaggio card in high-grade is extremely difficult. Eight years later, DiMaggio would again be given the honor of #1 card in a set, this time in Leaf’s 1948-49 series. Unlike the Play Ball cards, these new Leaf cards were bright, colorful, and visually appealing, though not enough, it seems, to prevent the company from folding in 1950. Both the Play Ball and Leaf #1 DiMaggio cards are hard to find in top condition.

A year after Play Ball put DiMaggio at the head of its set, the “Yankee Clipper,” as he was often called, won his second of three American League Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards. It was during that 1941 season that DiMaggio had his 56-game hitting streak, a record that has been called one of sports’ hardest achievements to eclipse.

DiMaggio’s MVP award that season was controversial, however, because Ted Williams, an outfielder for the rival Boston Red Sox, had a .406 batting average and led the league with 37 homeruns. No player has hit over .400 since that year. DiMaggio would win his third MVP in 1947, two years after returning to baseball after serving three years in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II.

DiMaggio and Williams enjoyed a great rivalry over the years, and consequently collectors have longed for photographs of the two men together, like the famous shot of them in a dugout taken during that 1941 season, or the picture of the pair that graced the July 8, 1950 cover of “TV Guide.” Collectors also covet memorabilia such as game-used bats and balls signed by both players.

While they were arguably the two best players in baseball in the 1940s, the owners of DiMaggio’s and Williams’ teams briefly explored the possibility of trading them for one another. Yankee Stadium played to Williams’ strengths as a left-handed hitter while Fenway Park played to DiMaggio’s strengths as a righty. The deal fell through only after Yankees’ General Manager Larry MacPhail refused to include Yogi Berra in the trade.

DiMaggio retired after the 1951 season, but not before he had the opportunity to share the outfield with another Yankee great: Mickey Mantle. Mantle was a rookie in 1951, so the two only spent a year as teammates, which mean a photograph of the two players together, especially autographed, is extremely desirable to many collectors.

As it turned out, DiMaggio’s retirement did not signal the end of his career as a creator of baseball memorabilia. That’s because in 1954 he eloped with movie star Marilyn Monroe. The marriage lasted less than a year, but that was enough time to create collectors’ items out of photographs of, and correspondence between, DiMaggio and Monroe.

In 2006, DiMaggio’s grandchildren auctioned off many of their grandfather’s collectibles. In total the auction netted more than $4 million and included everything from letters between Monroe and DiMaggio to a silver-plated ice bucket DiMaggio used in the 1940s.

The items that garnered some of the highest bids included a pinstriped flannel game-worn uniform from DiMaggio’s last World Series in 1951, as well as the ball he hit in 1941 to break Wee Willie Keeler’s record of 44 consecutive games. The item that sold for the highest amount, $281,750, was DiMaggio’s 1947 MVP award. Because he was such a popular player in New York, everything from his Hall of Fame ring to his and Monroe’s marriage certificate commanded huge prices.

Other popular DiMaggio collectibles include game-used Louisville Slugger bats, statues, autographed baseballs, and autographed Hall of Fame plaques, which have been produced by various companies and sold by the Hall of Fame since the late 1930s. Only certain players, DiMaggio among them, have autographed plaques available for purchase.

Finally, although autographed DiMaggio artifacts are not especially difficult to come by, bats autographed by DiMaggio are extremely rare because he was one of the first players to control the types of bats he used and the number of them he would sign. That scarcity has made them quite sought-after today.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Old Cardboard

Old Cardboard

Check out this well-organized collection of 500 sets of baseball cards, each over 50 years old. Browsable by type a… [read review or visit site]

The Baseball Card Blog

The Baseball Card Blog

Ben Henry's lively vintage baseball card blog, started in January 2006, offers hundreds of great posts on (and pict… [read review or visit site]

Cardboard Junkie

Cardboard Junkie

Dave Campbell's in-depth blog on old baseball (and some football) cards lives up to it's motto: 'do cards, not drug… [read review or visit site]

Baseball Cards 1887-1914

Baseball Cards 1887-1914

Roll up your socks for this Library of Congress collection showcasing hundreds of players on colorful early basebal… [read review or visit site]

Baseball Hall of Fame

Baseball Hall of Fame

A home run for baseball collectors, this site features special online exhibits, ranging from a baseball-uniforms da… [read review or visit site]



Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Joe Dimaggio Autographed Signed Jersey + Collage *rare* Le #152 Of 325* Jsa1939 Playball Joe Dimaggio, Psa 7, Rookie, Rc, "new York Yankee", Hall Of Famer!1941 Play Ball Joe Dimaggio #71 Baseball Card Psa 4 Vg-ex Joe Dimaggio Signed Baseball - Mlb Hof - Ny Yankees - Psa/dnaYasiel Puig / Joe Dimaggio Auto Card Lot National Treasures / Flawless / PatchesJoe Dimaggio Signed Official Major League Baseball Jsa Certified N.y. YankeesJoe Dimaggio Autographed Reach American League Joe Cronin Baseball 1959-70 Jsa Joe Dimaggio Autographed Baseball Primetime Sports Letter Of AuthenticitySan Francisco Giants Joe Dimaggio Bobblehead! 1948 Leaf Joe Dimaggio #1 Baseball CardJoe Dimaggio Autographed Baseball W/ Coa2004 Sp Game Used Patch Hof Numbers Joe Dimaggio New York Yankees 4/51993 Pinnnacle Joe Dimaggio Auto On Card New York YankeesJoe Dimaggio 1/1 2014 Gypsy Queen Cyan Printing Plate 1 Of 1 #312Mickey Mantle Duke Snider Joe Dimaggio Willie Mays Auto Signed Frame Joe Dimaggio Autographed Baseball In A Full Blue InkJoe Dimaggio Yogi Berra Rizzuto Triple Threads Jersey Pin Stripe Patch 36/36 1/11993 Pinnacle Joe Dimaggio 30 Tin Case Set - On Card Auto # 2 Of 5 Coa1963 Joe Dimaggio Yankees Baseball Hall Of Fame Bust Minty Nice!Mickey Mantle Joe Dimaggio New York Yankees Signed Auto FrameJoe Dimaggio Signed 8 X 10 Photo Jsa Certified Full Cert. New York Yankees1948 Leaf # 1 Joe Di Maggio Signed Joe Dimaggio, Frank Sinatra 1940's Photo, Leo Durocher Toots Shor2012 National Treasures Joe Dimaggio Pinstripe Jersey Yankees #07/99Joe Dimaggio Signed Baseball #5Mickey Mantle Joe Dimaggio New York Yankees Signed Auto FrameMickey Mantle Joe Dimaggio Willie Mays Duke Snider Signed Auto YankeesJoe Dimaggio 93 Pinnacle Certified Auto Card Set New York YankeesJoe Dimaggio Ro-a Baseball Auto Obtained In Sf In Person 6/3/95 W/photo & TicketJoe Dimaggio 2006 Exquisite Gold Triple Jersey 07/25 YankeesWillie Mays,mickey Mantle,joe Dimaggio,duke Snider Centerfield Autographed PhotoLot Of 101~2014~gypsy Queen~mini~jeter~george Brettjoe Dimaggio~koufax~Reggie Jackson Single Signed Joe Dimaggio Baseball Auto Psa/dna Coa Yankees Hof1946 Who's Who Baseball 50 Signatures Joe Dimaggio, Ted Williams, Hank GreenbergJoe Dimaggio 2014 Gypsy Queen Mini Magenta Printing Plate 1 Of 1 YankeesJoe Dimaggio 2005 Sweet Spot Classic Ud Game Used Jersey Baseball Card Mint 1940 Wheaties Hand Cut W/bio Joe Dimaggio Yankees #nno Psa 9 #08251545 Pop "2"1939 Play Ball Joe Dimaggio #26 Vg-ex Psa 4.5 Nice Centering No ReserveJoe Dimaggio Signed Yellow Hof Plaque Postcard Psa/dna Auto2012 Topps Triple Threads Combo Willie Mays Joe Dimaggio Stan Musial #d 25/36Joe Dimaggio Autographed Rawlings Official Gene Budig A.l. Baseball 1949 Baseball Magazine Joe Dimaggio Ted Williams Casey Stangl Marty Marion Hof1953 Topps #149 Dom Dimaggio Red Sox Nrmint Set BreakRare Major League Signed Baseball By Joe Dimaggio RareJoe Dimaggio Major League Baseball By Hollander1942 Who's Who In Baseball - Joe Dimaggio N.y. Yankees On Cover2007 Topps Triple Threads Relic 6/18. Mantle, Dimaggio, Rodriguez. Bgs. YankeesVtg 40s 50s Joe Dimaggio Hof Baseball Shoes W/orig Picture Box Ny Yankees RareJoe Dimaggio Autographed Photo Coa2014 Topps Tribute Base Cards: Lot Of 8 Yankees: Babe Ruth, Joe Dimaggio, Etc. Joe Dimaggio Upper D.e.c.k 2005 48 Of 75Vintage Joe Dimaggio Model Baseball Glove Vintage Ted Williams, Joe Dimaggio, Dick Newsome And Lefty Gomez Autographs2001 Upper Deck Vintage #nyy Joe Dimaggio Bat Bgs 9 Mint W/ 9.51980 Perez-steele Hof Postcard #75 Joe Dimaggio Gem Mint Psa/dna 10Don Larsen Single Signed Joe Dimaggio Baseball Auto Psa/dna Coa Yankees($1,000) Vintage Graded Lot Babe Ruth Cobb Clemente Aaron Jackie Dimaggio TrisAutographed Joe Dimaggio "the Streak" Collectors Plate W/ Coa From Brad ExchangeSan Francisco Sf Giants Seals Joe Dimaggio Bobblehead Sga New/box UnopenedLot Of 7 1952 Topps Baseball Cards Poor Dimaggio

Recent News: Joe DiMaggio Memorabilia

Source: Google News

Internationally Renowned Pediatric Cardiac Surgeon, Edward Bove, MD to Work ...
Ticker Report, April 17th

Now, his clinical expertise and prowess in program development will fuse with Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital's cadre of pediatric heart surgeons and physicians to take the hospital's Heart Institute to next level. “For years, we have been assembling...Read more

Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda shine as Yanks blank Cubs twice
Newsday, April 16th

It was his 362nd, moving him past Joe DiMaggio on baseball's career list. "I feel good. I'm seeing the ball good," said Beltran, who went 3-for-7 in the doubleheader, lifting his average to .327. He got his fourth homer and ninth run batted in since...Read more

Tanaka shines in Game 1 win for Yankees over Cubs
Newsday, April 16th

The Yankees, meanwhile, got all the offense they needed on Carlos Beltran's first-inning home run into the rightfield porch. It was homer No. 362, moving Beltran past Joe DiMaggio and into 78th place on baseball's career list. "I feel good. I'm seeing...Read more

Carlos Beltran passes Joe DiMaggio on home run list
Newsday, April 16th

Carlos Beltran's home run in Wednesday's opening game of a doubleheader against the Cubs broke a tie with Joe DiMaggio on baseball's career home run list. Beltran slammed career homer No. 362 off Jason Hammel in the first inning at Yankee Stadium ...Read more

Ingress Portal of the Day: Site of Joe DiMaggio's birth
Martinez News-Gazette, March 27th

Ingress Portal of the Day - Joe DiMaggio's Birthplace The site of Joe DiMaggio's birth is today's Ingress Portal of the Day. DiMaggio was born Nov. 25, 1914, the eighth of nine children to parents Giuseppe and Rosalia DiMaggio. The family moved to San ...Read more

Seized Baseball Gems: N.J. Auction Includes Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Walter ...
newjerseynewsroom.com, March 26th

NorthJersey.com reported that items to be sold at the auction include baseballs signed by Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Walter Johnson, Rogers Hornsby and Napoleon LaJoie, and another one autographed by Mickey Mantle, Duke Snider and Willie Mays...Read more

Austin Mahone Visits Sick Fans at the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital!
Just Jared Jr., March 24th

Earlier this week, Austin visited fans who were staying in the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital. “Thank you to @jdchospital @moc_ali @musiciansocall and @philbarnesmusic for today. Was an amazing experience!!” he tweeted after his visit. We love when ...Read more

Det. Sonny Grosso, Joe DiMaggio and an Ongoing Love Affair With the Yankees
Huffington Post, March 21st

Grosso has been a fan of the pinstripes since he was a kid growing up in Harlem, cheering for the Yankee Clipper, Joe DiMaggio. In his upcoming memoir, Harlem to Hollywood: My Real to Reel Life, Grosso spins larger-than-life tales about his on-going...Read more