On This Day In History | 1955

Dec. 1941 | DiMaggio and his signature bat (Photo courtesy of Library of Congress)

Dec. 1941 | DiMaggio and his signature bat (Photo courtesy of Library of Congress)

On this day 58 years ago the immortal Joe DiMaggio was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writer’s Association of America.  Incredibly, after a career in which he slugged 361 home runs, batted .325, won 3 MVPs, and recorded a 56-game hitting streak, the Yankee Clipper was enshrined in his third year of eligibility.  His deferment can be partially explained by the fact that during the early fifties there was such a bottleneck of greats that even transcendent players like DiMaggio had to wait their turn.  For example, the 1950 ballot famously included Mel Ott, Bill Terry, Jimmie Foxx, Paul Waner, Al Simmons, Harry Heilmann, Dizzy Dean, and Bill Dickey, yet that year Cooperstown opened its doors to no one.

In 1953, DiMaggio’s first eligible year, he received just 44.32% of the required 75% vote for admission.  In 1954 he received 69.44% of the vote, but Rabbit Maranville, Bill Dickey, and Bill Terry were the only ones elected.  Now, before we storm the ivy-covered walls of Cooperstown over DiMaggio’s snubs, the Hall enacted a special “DiMaggio Rule” in 1954, the same year they installed the 5-year waiting period before retired players could be eligible.  Out of respect for the Clipper, they allowed him to remain on the 1955 ballot while his contemporaries had to wait the requisite five years.  He was admitted on the 1955 ballot, becoming the only player from the 1950s to also be enshrined in the 1950s.  Here is the 1955 ballot:

  1. Joe DiMaggio | 88.84%
  2. Ted Lyons | 86.45%
  3. Dazzy Vance | 81.67%
  4. Gabby Hartnett | 77.69%
  5. Hank Greenberg | 62.55%
  6. Joe Cronin | 53.78%

DiMaggio found out about his greatest honor in an unceremonious way.  While entering the Bronx on a return trip from Boston, a truck driver beside DiMaggio yelled out, “Congratulations,” and added something about the Hall of Fame.  As DiMaggio remembered, “I didn’t know what to believe, so I turned on my car radio and sure enough, it was true.”

He was enshrined on July 25, 1955 in front of the biggest crowd since 1939.  In his induction speech Joltin’ Joe famously said, “Now I’ve had everything except for the thrill of watching Babe Ruth play.”  The humbled hero added, “I’m proud indeed to be put alongside Lou, Bill Dickey, my other old teammates, and those other great players of my time and before.”

The Milwaukee Journal recounted the day in an article on July 26, 1955:

Joe DiMaggio stole the spotlight here Monday when he and five other former baseball stars were inducted into the Hall of Fame.  The former New York Yankee outfielder received a long ovation when he was introduced by baseball commissioner Ford Frick.

“This is a happy day for me,” DiMaggio said after he was presented a replica of the plaque which will hang in the Hall of Fame.  DiMaggio, 40, told the crowd he had tried to pattern himself after the late Lou Gehrig.

“I watched every move Lou made on and off the field,” Joe said.  “Also I’d like to thank Joe McCarthy, my first manager, for the early training he gave me.”

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Posted on January 26, 2013, in Misc. News and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 93 Comments.

  1. What I will write about is much nicer than what I think of him, after all he was the one that helped Mickey break his knee on a water drain…a long story!

    Any how, no matter ones feelings about “Joltin Joe” there has been and even now, little doubt of his place in the baseball history books. There have been 4 great to super OFs in baseball, all others are compared to almost every day, the only one to be added may be Ken Griffey Jr..
    RF is without a doubt “The Babe”, Ty Cobb is the best LF/CF but, then come a huge quandary…who is the best CF to ever play?
    I have been back and forth over this road for over 50 years, now maybe those that never saw Mickey, Willie and Joe D can chime in, The Babe and Ty are without any argument the bast of all.
    Ok, guys and lady’s, take your shot;
    1–Joltin Joe D
    4–Ken Griffy Jr.

    If it is too hard to deside (believe me it isn’t as simple as you may think) My favorite is Mickey but, is he the bast? I would say so if I go by my heart but, that is the way one picks a coat. And don’t try and give me Bernnie Williams or Hammering Hank Aarion.

  2. Thanks for the comment oldyankee7. After reading The Last Boy (Mantle biography–highly recommend), Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life, and Summer of ’49 over the past several months I was disappointed as my vision of the Clipper became more nuanced and complete. My perception of him was so idyllic: He was graceful and private; a tortured hero that had roses delivered to Marilyn’s grave every week until he died.

    But what I learned about him tarnished that image a bit. He was threatened by the young Mantle when he came up in ’51 and therefore was incredibly cold toward him. He continued to treat Mantle poorly long after they retired, which is why the Mick made it a point to be welcoming to rookies. When there was a Mickey Mantle day at the Stadium complete with special Mantle game balls, he berated the front office until he was given one as well. He was vicious about protecting his image. He was a shrewd businessman (He would have gotten a huge check from Heinz had his hitting streak reached 57 games). So it was a little sad for me to learn he was not merely humble and quiet, but proud and vindictive.

    That being said, he is in the baseball Pantheon. I never had the opportunity to see either he or Mantle play so I can’t go on what I saw. From a fielding standpoint Mantle’s fielding % at CF was .984 while DiMaggio’s was .978, but DiMag has him in Defensive WAR 3.2 to -10.1 (though Mantle played for 5 more years). Both had 3 MVPs; Mantle had 3 runner-ups, DiMag 2. Mantle had the triple crown, DiMag had 56. It’s impossible to choose between 2 legends.

    1. Mantle
    2. DiMaggio
    3. Mays
    4. Griffey

    Speaker, Snider, Puckett, Bernie on the next level down.

  3. Dan – if Mantle didn’t drink so much his UZR would have been better. When he played CF he saw 3 balls he said. He also stumbled over a drain and hurt his knee after a night at the Copacabana.

    • No doubt we could be talking about Mantle as one of the top 5 ever if he didn’t carouse, come to the ballpark with hangovers, tear up his knee in ’51, get the shot from Dr. Feelgood, etc. etc. It’s a tragic story.

      However, he played most of his career with barely any cartilage in his right knee, overcame osteomyelitis that almost took his life as a boy, and bravely told the world he was not a hero near the end of his life. So while I’m saddened when I think about what he might have done had he stayed healthy and taken better care of himself, I still think there was some redemption to his story.

      • Dan, you done, done good!
        Sorry you had to read about Joe D to find out what he was really like.
        I get enough junk because I try telling things as they are, so I didn’t want to get into that stuff but, now I can.
        Casey told Mickey to keep going after the ball until he heard Joe call him off. They were playing one afternoon and a short pop-up (for the CF) was hit, Mickey went after it like only he could, all of a sudden he head Joe say “I got it”. Mickey put on the breaks and his foot hit a water drain and he shattered his knee. That is something I could never get over, he knew long before he called the kid off that he had it but, that was the great Joe D.
        When he was married to Marilyn, they went to Korea entertaining the troops with USO. Marilyn finished her song and the place went ballistic, with the troops going crazy. Marilyn turned to Joe D and asked him, “have you ever heard such an ovation?” he looks at her and says “Yes, yes I have”. He was right but, he need not crush the spirit of the moment!

        • I knew about that drain story. DiMag was ruthlessly territorial out there. I didn’t even live through it and it makes me cringe. His teammates said it looked like he was shot he went down to quickly. To think about what he did on that knee without the advent of modern medicine just adds to his heroic mystique.

          I never knew about that Marilyn story. That story epitomizes him doesn’t it. Whenever he made an appearance at Old-Timers’ Days, a stipulation of his was that he be announced last and as “the greatest living player”–which was true despite the obvious hubris. One time Mantle was announced last instead and he was beyond livid.

          But all of our “heroes” had flaws, right? In a way it makes us love them more because they become less ethereal and we can identify with their shortcomings while being inspired by their greatness. Joe D helped us win 9 World Series and that’s good enough for me.

  4. Another little thing about Mickey you guys (Twasp) may not have known!
    If any of you will remember Mickey asked for his Plaque in CF be a bit lower than Joe “D’s. He may have been many things, twasp has called him all of them but, he had the kind of class one can’t learn, it is not PC, it is something you have as a child and keep through out your life.
    His whole family, dad, uncles etc. all died very young in life (worked in the mines) so he thought he was going to follow them and die young. This was one of the things he said later in life, he said it was not an excuse for what he did to himself, it was something that was just there and he believed it.

    • I love that story about Mantle. And the plaque actually did hang slightly lower in centerfield, at the Mick’s request, until the Stadium was renovated in ’74 and they rehung them at the same height. He was plagued by a number of demons and made his mistakes, but he was a humble man–always rounding the bases quickly after a HR, with his head down, so as not to show up the pitcher. He was never comfortable with fame and shied away from those who deified him. He may have atoned too late for some people, but he atoned nonetheless. For that reason he remains one of my heroes.

  5. Dan nice article. Good to read about players from the past. Nice job.

  6. DiMaggio was a real stuck up ego maniac. They should have announced Horace Clarke after him at All Star Games.

  7. All these stars that the Golden Boys love were either over grown frat boys, drunk and profane, or pompous asses like Joe D.

    If you want a hero you don’t have to believe in myths made up by 1950 sportswriters. He’s right here, now, class, integrity, talent,charisma and never once in a scandal…….Derek Sanderson Jeter.

    • Hey, I love Jeet. He will no doubt go down as one of the greatest Yanks. No one will ever wear #2 again. He’s a First Ballot guy. He may be my favorite of all-time and he has shown a staggering amount of class and poise over his long career. It’ll be a fun discussion when he retires.

    • Watch out Dan……we have a secret Jeter hater on the site. He thinks Jeter does not deserve first ballot HOF. He also thinks Jeter is selfish and hanging on to get the hits record. Beware of him….

      • Well, the closer Jeet gets to 4,256 we’ll have to see how well he’s playing. But the guy hit .316 last year. I wouldn’t call that “hanging on” just yet. If he starts batting .250 as his range at SS keeps diminishing he might have an argument. But as for now, I don’t think he’s pulling a Ripken. (I like an Oriole dig whenever I can get it in).

        • Dan…
          For your edification Because I tell it like it is and not how some fans are blinded by the great media coverage he gets and don’t bother to look at stats…you can think what you like but, it is from the heart not the facts.
          Did you know, Jeter defensive WAR is below -0- it is so low they don’t even list him in the record book.

          Jeter is arguably the best SS the Yankee have had but, the greatest Yankee Not even close! I don’t hate him at all, facts are facts, that’s what everyone tells me anyhow!

  8. Ken I pick the Yankees

    1 Mantle
    2. Joe D,
    3. Bernie W
    4. Mickey Rivers
    5. Bobby Murcer
    6. Ron Woods

  9. Yes, Dan did a very good job …he will be a welcome addition to this site.

  10. Dan h……who was the Yankeenthat has his bat in the HOF for being the firstnbatter to DH?

  11. QUESTION: I know the Yankees have insurance, to cover Alex R. salary, if he has to
    retire. That is fact……BUT, does that money, count against the cap?
    For some reason I think it does.

  12. P………

    The one thing an A-Rod insurance policy doesn’t give the Yankees may be the one thing they really want: luxury-tax relief. That’s because all of A-Rod’s salary from 2013 to 2017 will count toward the luxury tax in each of those seasons, even if the Yankees are reimbursed for a significant portion of that salary under the policy. So even if the insurance payout gives the Yankees the financial flexibility to sign or trade for players to replace A-Rod, the luxury tax still looms if the Yankees’ payroll (including A-Rod’s salary and the replacement player(s) salary) exceeds $189 million in 2014.

  13. I respect that. We’ve long heard with more savvy defensive stats that he has been marginal. But I think his offensive stats, clutch moments, and leadership puts him in the Yankee Pantheon. Top 5 all-time when he’s done. Then again his career and my sports awareness began at the same time so I may be biased.

  14. You are right on Dan. Offense clutch moments leadership AND some great defensive plays have made Jeter the best SS in the modern era. First ballot HOF, don’t you think?

    • I think he’s 1st ballot right now. 3,000 hits. 13x AS. 5x Gold Glove. 5x Silver Slugger. .313 lifetime BA. But beyond the numbers it’s the intangibles like his sense of the moment and the fact that he’s only the 11th captain in Yankee history. And how many of his plays are iconic moments not only in Yankee history but baseball history: the 3,000 hit HR, the flip, the catch, the Mr. November HR… he has no doubt been the darling of the New York media and they have glorified him, but he’s given them a damn good reason to.

      His defense has always been a knock on him, but he fielding %s and error counts have actually improved somewhat with age. All of that to say, there is no doubt that for some DJ can do no wrong and I don’t think he is the best all-time Yankee, but he is the best one that I have ever seen and a leader on par with Gehrig and a clutch postseason performer that you could put alongside anyone that has donned the pinstripes.

      • Dan, really good description of why Jeter is so great it’s not only the stats, I hope oldyanker reads this and he starts to understand this.

        • Yeah, not trying to stir up anything here. Just love discussing/debating our beloved Yanks.

          • Dan/twasp…
            There is no argument from me about Jeter being a first ballot HoF pick. And I have said time and again, he has baseball instincts, which is something one has or not. As a leader he only backs up those he likes, and he and Joe T, went out of their way to make A-Rod un-welcome to the team. Joe T and Jeter didn’t want him and they let it be known to the other players. A true Captain is the one guy that steps up for his team mates…Jeter has only done that for…Jason, Posada, Andy…if there was another player, let me know!
            The reason I have said he is not one of the great Yankees is because, the great Yankees played as stars on both sides of the ball, Jeter is the best hitting SS I ever saw as a Yankee but, is only in maybe 3rd place maybe 4th place as an all-time SS…stats and the ratings show it like this…# 1–A-Rod, #2–Wagner/Hornsby, #3–Jeter.
            The reason Jeter was down graded was his D-War -8.
            If Jeter could have had better Defensive numbers, I would have put him in #–2…Maybe #1…18 good years, as a SS is a long time.
            Now, I don’t call that denigrating a player, he has been great but as far as putting him in the same class of the greatest Yankees…I can’t see it, there is more to playing baseball than hitting! The truly greats had all parts of the game not just one.

            Jeter will have his Plaque in monument park some day and be in the Hall of Fame, as it should be. He has worked his whole life for it and He Done, done good! :)

            • Good points oldyank. I may disagree with you a bit about his leadership. And like I said before I don’t have another point of reference. He’s simply the best I’ve seen. Based on what I read and watched of Mantle/DiMag would I put him in the same class. Nope. Is he one of the 10 greatest ever to wear pinstripes? Hell, yes. If I had to rank the greatest Yanks of all-time I’d go (right now off the top of my head without analyzing stats, etc.):
              1. Ruth
              2. Gehrig
              3. Mantle
              4. DiMag
              5. Yogi
              6. Ford
              7. Mo
              8. Jeter
              9. Reggie
              10. Pettitte

              • Not a bad list Dan…
                4–Joe DiMag
                6–Bill Dickey
                13-Vic Raschi
                14-Allie Reynolds
                I put Jeter and Rizzuto as #10 only to get them in the top 10. I would have to go through the stats for good numbers but, like you I didn’t. Does anyone pick Phil over Jeter? Not that I know, they each had a different talent. If I had to pick one to start for me it would be very hard to pick but, I would go with Jeter for sure.

                • Scooter/Jeet is a great debate actually. Scooter was an unreal fielder, acrobatic, incredible durable for his size. He also won an MVP (1950?). Jeet’s offensive numbers are better, but is there a bigger gap between the O numbers or D numbers? It’s a great debate.

                  • Dan…
                    I believe it is a lot like the CF debate, it is more perception rather than stats. Phil won AL MVP and WS MVP in 1950, right? You and others that never saw him play will, without a doubt in your mind, pick Jeter! I can’t argue with the pick but, I can’t argue with going the other way either.
                    The big thing for me is Defense, if I have two players close in hitting but one is better in Defense I go defense most of the time. If I remember right Phil was a lifetime .270+ hitter, and Jeter is about .314 right?
                    You pick-um? :)

                    • It’s no contest Jeter offe.nsive numbers are light years above Scooters. Scooter had NO power and was an average batting avg hitter. The defensive gap doesn’t come close to balancing.

                    • yeah Scooter is .270+ and Jeter is .316 I believe. Defense in postseason games is crucial. Our coaches always taught us, “Defense wins championships, right?” I’d have to go back and look at any times where his defense has cost the Yanks in October. Several big postseason plays stand out though: (1) the flip: Game 3 ’01 ALDS (2) the falling catch in the stands: Game 5 ’01 ALDS (3) the jump throw: Game 1 ’98 ALCS (4) the relay throw–Game 1 ’00 WS… and that’s just off the top of my head.

                      Better defender? Scooter, no question. But with the game on the line DJ the moment has rarely eluded him.

              • Dan – here is my top Yankees
                1. Derek Jeter
                2. Celerino Sanchez
                3. Jerry Kenny
                4. Frank Tepedino
                5. Joe pepitone
                6. Steve Whitaker
                7. Ruth
                8. Gehrig
                9. Joe DiMaggio
                10. Oscar Gamble

  15. Dan….what was Ron Bloomberg’s nickname?

  16. Steve Hamilton threw a folly floater

  17. Dan . do you know what Yankee reliever threw a forkball in the 1960s?

  18. Dan – do you know what 2 Yankee pitchers traded their wives to each other?

  19. ha ha that’s funny. Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich

  20. Dan

    do you know who PaulO’ Neil said was the best baserunner he ever saw?

  21. I’d say Rickey but their careers didn’t overlap in the Bronx… I’d say Knoblauch or Polonia

  22. Nope…….Derek Sanderson Jeter was the best according to ONeil.

    do you know who Jeter was named after? Sanderson?

  23. Dan H….I see you’re having a Baptism of fire. With the give, and go with Mr. Twasp.
    You are in good company. Twasp is world class.
    Welcome to YFU. Sorry, for not stepping forward earlier. Take care.

  24. Dan H…even Twasp may not know this one…….
    Which former Yankee player, in March of 2002, stole Derek Jeter’s baseball glove,
    and tried to sell it to a memorabilia dealer……….for $2500.00?

  25. Dan ,- who’s mother was hit by an errant throw by chuck knoblach while sitting in the stands behind first base?

  26. Good going Dan and twasp…
    T-man, did you give Dan the names of those books? And the name of the one I told you about, I never can remember the name of it…it was written by Mel Allen!

  27. Mel Allen? It was probably called “How ‘Bout That!”

  28. Dan – here is the folly floater by Steve Hamilton.


    1. The CF fence was 463 ft
    2. The monuments were on the field
    3. Munson was the catcher
    4. Rizzuto was the announcer

    • hahaha, the batter flipping his helmet at the end says it all.

      1. the best part is that it was moved in from 490 ft
      2. That reminds me of the stengel’s quote when a ball got caught behind the monuments and he yelled at huggins and ruth to throw the “damn ball outta there!”
      3. munson looks spry
      4. “HO-LY COW!”

  29. Well guys, time for me to get on my other blog, and go nuts!

    Was very good with the back and forth, to night guys, thanks for the time! I didn’t even have anything to call twasp names about, I must be getting old!

    Night guys….:)

    Seriously, if I am allowed to be serious……
    Next Sunday Feb.3, 2013…is ‘The Make A Wish Foundations’ ..13th annual
    Polar Bear Sunday, at Long Beach, New York.
    To date, they have raised almost 3 million dollars.
    It’s lunacy, but fun. Last year over 8 thousand polar bears.
    They say the start time is 1:30, but all hell breaks loose at 1PM.
    I am a participant, and contributor. And will be there.
    Join patrick, and Father Ginty. We fly, both the American, and Irish flag
    that day………..on waters edge.

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