“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    

1938 Goudey Heads Up #274 Joe Dimaggio Rc Rookie Hof Yankees Psa 1 PrMickey Mantle / Ted Williams / Joe Dimaggio Baseball - "as-is"Joe Dimaggio Single Signed Baseball Auto Jsa Loa Ny Yankees Hof Deceased 19992014 National Treasures Dom Dimaggio Gu Jumbo Jersey Auto Booklet Red Sox 2/5Mickey Mantle Uda Baseball Ted Williams Uda Baseball And Joe Dimaggio YceJoe Dimaggio Signed Autographed Oal Baseball Psa/dna # Y08094 YankeesJoe Dimaggio Mickey Mantle Autographed Photo Yankee Legends Showcase W/ Coa /gfaBugs Bunny Cartoon Photo W/m.mantle,j.dimaggio, R.jackson,d.mattingly AutographsMickey Mantle, Joe Dimaggio, & Ted Williams Autographed Centerpiece With Coa/gfaJoe Dimaggio New York Yankees 2004 Sp Legendary Cut Signature Autograph #/1112012 Panini Prime Cuts Joe Dimaggio Timeline Relic 10/25Joe Dimaggio 2015 Topps Gypsy Queen Framed Mini Clear Parallel True 1/1 Acetate2007 Triple Threads Joe Dimaggio 3x Game-used Bat Relics #17/36 Yankees Hof Sp1939 Play Ball #26 Joe Dimaggio Psa 6 Ex-mt Yankees HoferJoe Dimaggio Single Signed Baseball Auto W/ Coa New York Yankees Hof Joe Dimaggio Signed 8x10 Photo Psa Auto YankeesJoe Dimaggio 2007 Upper Deck Ud Premier Remnant Quad Yankee Game Used Jersey /361937 Yankees Tcma Joe Dimaggio Frank Crosetti Bill Dickey Triple Auto Psa/dnaJoe Dimaggio Auto Baseball Global Authentication Signed Yankees AutographJoe Dimaggio Signed Baseball Autographed Ball Steiner Sports CoaJoe Dimaggio Yankees Hof Signed Baseball Jsa LoaDerek Jeter / Joe Dimaggio 2006 Upper Deck Dual Bat Jersey /99 Psa 10 Pop1 1/11937 Joe Dimaggio And Yankees Baseball Original News Press Service Photograph1948 1949 Leaf Joe Dimaggio #1 Bvg 6 Ex-mt YankeesJoe Dimaggio Signed Jersey Psa/dna1941 Double Play Joe Dimaggio Hof Charley Keller Yankees Psa 7 NmNew York Yankees Joe Dimaggio & Boston Red Sox's Ted Williams 8x10 Autograph 1952 Topps Dom Dimaggio Red Sox #22 Autograph Series 2001 Archives Mint 5 Of 170Joe Dimaggio 2012 Panini National Treasures Authentic Jersey Sp 43/49 Ny YankeesDom Dimaggio..1953..topps #149..boston Red Sox Outfielder!!!2015 Topps Tier One Legends Joe Dimaggio Relic 64/99 Torl-jd_"yankees Clipper"Joe Dimaggio Autographed Baseball Yankees Lee Mac Baseball See Pics1938 Goudey Joe Dimaggio Yankee Clipper Good2014 National Treasures Joe *d* Dimaggio Game Used Bat Relic #24/252012 Historic Autographs Joe Dimaggio Cut Auto # 8/11 Psa 1951 Yankees ChampionsJoe Dimaggio 2014 Panini Immaculate The Greatest Relic Bat /49 !! Rare !! Hof2015 Topps Tier One Legends Joe Dimaggio Single Jersey #97/992012 Triple Threads Emerald Game Bat Willie Mays Joe Dimaggio Stan Musial 16/182007 Ud Sweet Spot Gu Jersey Relic Lot Joe Dimaggio Cal Ripken Willis Molitor 2005 Sweet Spot Classic Joe Dimaggio Classic Materials Gu Jersey1941 Joe Dimaggio Hit Streak Game #44/56 Used Vintage Yankees Baseball Program1940's Joe Dimaggio Yankees Baseball Premium Photograph On Textured Paper1952 Topps #22 Dom Dimaggio **psa Vg-ex 4** Boston Red Sox *low Number* Old CardJoe Dimaggio- Huge 46-card Lot!! Vintage Yankees! Must See!! Bv$$$!Vince Dimaggio Signed Autographed Photo Psa/dna Slabbed Deceased New York GiantsJoe Dimaggio Autograph Picture 56th Game Hit 7-15-41 Joe Dimaggio Autographed Magazine, Jsa & Heritage AuctionAutographed Joe Dimaggio New York Yankees 8x10 PhotographVintage Joe Dimaggio Restaurant Fisherman's Wharf Matchbook & Napkin Mint 1950 New York Yankees Autograph 15 Cards 1952 Topps Reprints Signed No Joe DimaggioJoe Dimaggio Autographed Photo Certified 11"× 14" Frame Display Coa/ GfaSept 3, 1947 Yankees Vs Red Sox Scorecard-joe Dimaggio & Ted Williams 2 Hits Ea.1952 Topps Baseball #22 Dom Dimaggio Boston Red Sox2015 Diamond Kings Base Card Lot (54)! Ruth, Gherig, Wagner, Dimaggio, Clemente!2015 Donruss Diamond Kings Framed Red/blue Lot 15 No Dups! Dimaggio Foxx WanerJoe Dimaggio /99 $120+ Yankees Game Used Worn Jersey Patch 2006 Upper Deck Epic2015 Topps Gallery Of Greats Lot Of 4 (ruth, Rivera, Dimaggio, Clemente)Yankees Joe Dimaggio 2015 Topps Gypsy Queen Red Mini Insert Card 40/50 Sp2008 Upper Deck Baseball Yankee Stadium Legacy 16 Card Lot W/ Yogi Dimaggio Etc1967 Senators Spring Program Autographed Mantle - Dimaggio - Tolbert

Recent News: Joe DiMaggio Memorabilia

Source: Google News

The Forgotten Story of ... Joe DiMaggio and the San Francisco Seals talent factory
The Guardian (blog), May 21st

Joe DiMaggio and the San Francisco Seals talent factory. In the days before the major leagues established themselves on the west coast, the Seals spawned some of baseball's greatest players. Joe DiMaggio in his time with the Seals. Joe DiMaggio as a...Read more

Joe DiMaggio begins hitting streak 74 years ago today
OutsidePitchMLB, May 15th

74 years ago today, Joe DiMaggio began one of the greatest records in sports history. His 56-game hitting streak is probably one of the few records in baseball that will remain untouched. Many believe that records are meant to be broken but this is a...Read more

#FlashbackFriday: DiMaggio's streak remains unbreakable (VIDEO)
NJ.com, May 15th

When Joe DiMaggio took the field on May 15, 1941, the Yankees center fielder was coming off back-to-back games without a hit. He wouldn't know that feeling again for months. Today marks the 74th anniversary of the start of DiMaggio's 56-game hitting ...Read more

Colorful way to help hospital
Sun Sentinel, May 14th

For Hollywood's Grace Carr, it was in the form of paintbrushes, canvases and friends. In April 2014, Carr underwent emergency surgery at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Hollywood to remove a brain tumor. A year later, the 7-year-old and her family ...Read more

teen paints children's nails at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital
Local 10, May 8th

Reporter: FOR TWO YEARS 16-YEAR-OLD PERRY SACKS HAS BEEN LEADING OTHER GROUPS TEENS TO JOE DIMAGGIO CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL AND TO ASSISTED LIVING CENTERS, GIVING JUNIORS AND SENIORS LOTS OF LOVE WITH A ...Read more

Did Yankees legend Joe DiMaggio have a date with transgender woman ...
NJ.com, April 30th

And according to one claim, Jorgensen went on a date with Yankees legend Joe DiMaggio. Page Six reported film critic and noted baseball enthusiast Jeffrey Lyons made the claim on Joe Piscopo's radio show. Lyons parents, he said, were friends with ...Read more

Joe DiMaggio's transgender 'date'
Page Six, April 29th

Joe DiMaggio fans, brace yourself. Film critic Jeffrey Lyons claims the Yankee legend once dated the world's first famous transsexual, Christine Jorgensen. Appearing on the Joe Piscopo radio show, Lyons (the son of columnist Leonard Lyons), said, “My ...Read more

David Ortiz Passes Chipper Jones, Joe DiMaggio On Milestone Homer (Video)
NESN.com, April 22nd

Ortiz's homer was the 469th of his career, moving him ahead Chipper Jones for 32nd on Major League Baseball's all-time home run list. The RBI that Ortiz tallied on the home run was the 1,538th RBI of his career, moving Big Papi ahead of Joe DiMaggio...Read more