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Joe DiMaggio.
A couple of interesting things you might have missed.

March 9, 1999

The famous 56-game streak began on May 15, 1941 and finally ended on the night of July 17 before a packed stadium in Cleveland. The Indians' third baseman was the problem. He had made two stupendous backhand plays to rob DiMaggio of two sure hits for the Yankees. On his fourth at bat Joe was intentionally walked, ending the streak. Interestingly, the next day, he started another 16-game streak. So, had they not walked him, the streak might actually have gone all the way to 73 games. Just a thought for your mental records. Many game experts say today that the streak will never be broken, but if it is, there is always this little fact to consider: what if they hadn't walked him?

And secondly, having married Marilyn Munroe for nine months in 1954, and then divorced, Joe entered a long and lonely portion of his life. One of the interesting episodes of their marriage that stands out is his vociferous opposition to Billy Wilder's insistence that in the picture, "The Seven Year Itch," Marilyn's skirt should be dramatically blown up very high. While that is one of her definitive photographs, and perhaps the world would be less beautiful without it, our hero, Joe, hated it, hated it, hated it. Joe had always been a very private person, who, when he dined out, always had a special table far from the view of the prying public and reporters. But, ironically, he fell in love with the world's preeminent diva, and sex-goddess, and then he tried to make her into something she wasn't. He never got over the heartbreak of that relationship and when Marilyn was on the verge of emotional collapse in the very early sixties during her excursion into the Kennedy clan, he took her back to help her recover, at the Yankees training camp and, again, tried to shield her from the world of her own choosing. Unsuccessfully, of course. When she died of a drug overdose on August 4, 1962, he took charge of her funeral and up until yesterday, when he died himself, he kept fresh roses outside her cript in Los Angeles. His will provides for the roses to continue forever, not surprisingly.

In his day, and in ours, he was considered by most the greatest baseball player of all time. And it is clear that his appeal to so many for so long had as much to do with his character and his grace as a human being, as it did with the accuracy of his bat, and the elegance of his movements in center field. Even today, when the world recently acclaimed the class of Mark McGuire, it was tempered with the thought that, "There'll never be another Joe DiMaggio."

May he rest in peace.

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