“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 Baseball Psa/ Dna Authentic W/ Full LetterJoe Dimaggio Signed Bobby Brown Baseball With Full Jsa Authentication LetterJoe Dimaggio & Bob Feller Dual Signed 8x10 Photo Psa/dna 9 Mint Auto W/ Loa HofJoe Dimaggio Hof Psa/dna Certified Autograph/signature Joe Dimaggio Signed Baseball2001 Sp Game Used Edition Authentic Duos Mickey Mantle/joe Dimaggio Jerseys $400Joe Dimaggio Hof Psa/dna Certified Autograph/signature 1964 Hof Plaque1964 Joe Dimaggio Yankees Signed Auto Autographed Hof Yellow Postcard Psa/dna Joe Dimaggio New York Yankees Hof Signed Autographed Letter 8x10 Psa # R65353Joe Dimaggio 2014 Panini Immaculate Baseball The Greatest Bat Card #d YankeesJoe Dimaggio Signature Series 4 Card Autograph Set Yankee Clipper Beautiful 2011 Topps Marquee Joe Dimaggio Gametime Relics 4x Gu Bat Jersey #/25Vintage Authentic Signed Autographed Photograph Phil Rizzuto & Joe Dimaggio1939 Play Ball Joe Dimaggio Rc2008 Topps Triple Threads Joe Dimaggio Hof Multi Jersey Bat 3/32008 Sp Legendary Cuts Joe Dimaggio / Derek Jeter Yankees Dual Jersey2014 Immaculate Coll Joe Dimaggio Gu Bat /49 *the Greatest* New York Yankees2014 Topps Tribute Joe Dimaggio #/99 Bat Relic New York YankeesSuper Rare Joe Dimaggio Twice Signed Baseball Warren Giles 1950s1941 Play Ball Dom Dimaggio Rc #63 Psa 7 - Boston Red SoxJoe Dimaggio Signed 8x10 Photo Hof Jsa Full Letter Authenticated Autographed!1948 Leaf #1 Joe Di Maggio New York Yankees Baseball Card Psa 2 GoodJoe Dimaggio 2005 Sweet Spot Classic Jersey Card20 Card Lot 2014 Panini Hall Of Fame 75th Diamond Kings Gwynn Ashburn Dimaggio +Mint 1942-49 Spalding 133 Joe Dimaggio Glove & BoxJoe Dimaggio Autographed Baseball($400) Lou Gehrig & Joe Dimaggio Lot Black & White Come With 4 Screw CasesJoe Dimaggio 2012 Topps Metal Retired Rings Card Jersey #5 Yankees #d 65/7361952 Topps #22 Dom Dimaggio Boston Red Sox Low Number Vintage Old Baseball Card($200) Mickey Mantle, Dimaggio, Williams Gold Auto Vintage Graded Gem Mint 9.52012 Triple Threads Legend Relics Joe Dimaggio Bat Bgs 9.5 Gem Mint Yankees Sp1951 New York Yankees Baseball Sketch Book Yearbook Joe Dimaggio Yogi Berra"rare" 2004 Upperdeck Sp Derek Jeter / Joe Dimaggio Generations Memorabilia Joe Dimaggio Signed Vintage New York Yankees Hat Psa/dna Loa Unused Mint Hat1960’s Joe Dimaggio Baseball Player Original Autograph2006 Joe Dimaggio Epic Materials Game Used Jersey Bat 10 Card Lot Nolan Ryan 06Joe Dimaggio 2008 Playoff Prime Cuts Signed Autograph Cut Sealed 121/250 Yankees1941 Play Ball #61 Vince Dimaggio Signed Auto Autographed Card Pirates Psa/dna7/27/1947 Chi White Sox @ Ny Yankees Ticket Stub - Dimaggio Hr#258 & Berra Hr#112012 Topps Retired Rings Joe Dimaggio 197/736 Yankees Hof1941 Play Ball #63 Dom Dimaggio Signed Auto Autographed Card Red Sox Psa/dnaJoe Dimaggio Signed Baseball Le#3-361 Psa With 361 Inscription Still In PlasticMantle, Dimaggio, Snider, And Mays Autographed 8x10 Photo With Custom FrameJoe Dimaggio The Streak Signed Plate Plus The Mick And Babe Ruth Plates + Bonus1950 R423 13 Mini Baseball Card Strip (13) Dimaggio Ty Cobb Mathewson Speaker Teammates Bobby Doerr Johnny Pesky Dom Dimaggio Signed Autograph Photo Psa/dna Bobby Doerr Johnny Pesky Dom Dimaggio Signed Auto Ted Williams Museum Psa/dna 1948 Leaf #1 Joe Dimaggio Vintage Baseball Card Joe Dimaggio, Keller And Henrich With Bats Original Negative($250) Ty Cobb, Wagner, Dimaggio Lot Blue & Mini Vintage Players 4 Screw Cases12 Life Magazines Mantle, Koufax, Drysdale, Dimaggio1950 Bowman Baseball -- Dom Di Maggio #3($300) Joe Dimaggio Original Vintage 1979 Graded Mint 9.5($250) Joe Dimaggio & Roger Maris Lot Vintage Players 4 Screw Cases(11) Roger Maris Babe Ruth Joe Dimaggio Ted Williams Baseball Vintage Pin Lot1937 Red Sox Yankees Program Gehrig And Dimaggio In Lineup1969 Oakland A's B&w Andersen Lot Of 12 Dimaggio, Reggie Jackson Rc, Catfish ++1940 Wheaties Hand Cut W/bio Joe Dimaggio Yankees #nno Psa 9 #08251545 Pop "2"2002 Upper Deck Ud Plus Memorabilia Joe Dimaggio Uniform Jersey #12/25 Bgs 9 NyJoe Dimaggio's Allen Edmonds Wingtip Shoes

Recent News: Joe DiMaggio Memorabilia

Source: Google News

Vintage New York City historical items up for sale on eBay
amNY, October 19th

The ball has 24 signatures from several pinstripe legends, including Phil Rizzuto and Joe DiMaggio. PARAMOUNT THEATRE BLUEPRINTS. This is one sheet of the blueprints of the Paramount Theatre that was up for sale this weekend. The blueprint for the ...Read more

DiMaggio, underwear and accents: Hugh McColl's World Series
Charlotte Business Journal (blog), October 17th

And all because of Joe DiMaggio. This bit of trivia from retired Charlotte banking executive Hugh McColl Jr. is entertaining enough on its own, but with the World Series starting next week, it seems well-timed, too. McColl built and bought his way...Read more

Oilers '84: Gretzky chases Joe DiMaggio
Edmonton Sun, October 9th

Wayne Gretzky DiMaggio Oilers Wayne Gretzky throws the puck from his 57th goal during the 1983 - 84 NHL season. Gretzky came close to beating New York Yankees Joe DiMaggio's 1941 record of 56-consecutive game hitting streak. Gretzky ended up ...Read more

Joe DiMaggio was struck by sports treasure swipes
Page Six, October 9th

His teammate, the late Joe DiMaggio, had six World Series rings swiped in the 1950s that were never found. At the September 1998 tribute to Joe at Yankee Stadium, George Steinbrenner presented DiMaggio with replicas the Boss had commissioned of ...Read more

Game show at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital brings fun to patients
MiamiHerald.com, October 6th

Timothy waits impatiently for the chance to be chosen as the next contestant for Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital's game show — Top 3. The live program, which is part of the hospital's television channel JoeD TV, aims to teach and entertain patients...Read more

Barry Sanders' 1997 season: Shades of Joe DiMaggio
NewsOK.com, September 29th

The Joe DiMaggio season. When we think of Sanders, usually it's his jaw-dropping 1988 season at OSU, which makes almost any list of the greatest individual seasons in college athletics, any sport. But Sanders' 1988 season at OSU might have been ...Read more

Simon & Schuster should come clean about discredited Monroe/DiMaggio book
Columbia Journalism Review, September 23rd

Three decades after that first investigation, Johnston again exposed Heymann, this time on the cover of Newsweek, reporting that the author's final effort, a posthumous book about Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe, Joe and Marilyn: Legends in Love, was ...Read more

Duke: Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?
Log Cabin Democrat, September 18th

Recent offerings on ESPN.com, what I can assume is the go-to site for sports news, scores, video and everything except for swimsuit-clad women (that's Sports Illustrated territory), included this: Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson banned...Read more