Dom DiMaggio: Baseball’s Biggest Little Brother | The Golden Sombrero Baseball Blog | MLB, Fantasy, College & High School Baseball News

Dom DiMaggio: Baseball’s Biggest Little Brother

“Who hits the ball and makes it go? Dominic DiMaggio./ Who runs the bases fast, not slow? Dominic DiMaggio./ Who’s better than his brother Joe? Dominic DiMaggio./ But when it comes to gettin’ dough, they give it all to brother Joe.”

Growing up, my older brother Griff was always the baseball player of the family.  He was a badass while I pretty much sucked.  Luckily, I realized this from a young age and chose to pursue other interests.  And even if my parents had high hopes naming me after the great George Brett, they obviously recognized the vast talent discrepancy between us and never pressured me to play, either.  Things worked out alright, I found plenty of activities, sports and otherwise, to excel at in my own right and never had to live in the enormous shadow my brother cast across Farmington baseball. Never jealous of his talents or recognition, I’ve always had nothing but respect and admiration for what Griff did on diamond; I even found my own niche in the baseball community as a respected umpire.  The point is I know how it feels to be in the stands cheering for your older brother, listening to everyone talk about how great he is.

This is a feeling Dom DiMaggio must’ve known all too well, his brother Joe being the vaunted Yankee Clipper and all.  But Dom could play ball himself, and he didn’t ever let his last name deter him from chasing his own baseball dreams.  And while both brothers had outstanding careers, Joe’s legendary shadow has continued to grow over time, today eclipsing any memories of another DiMaggio ever having played.  So I’d like to give a tip of my sombrero to Mr. Dominic DiMaggio with this installment of baseball players you should know.

Born February 12th, 1917, Dominic Paul DiMaggio was the youngest of nine DiMaggio children and two years younger than brother Joe.  The thickly bespectacled centerfielder stood only 5’9” tall and weighed 168 pounds; nicknamed “The Little Professor,” father Giuseppe encouraged him to pursue a career in law.  However, Dom did not let his slight stature slow him down and his big break came in 1937 with the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League.  His Seals contract was purchased by the Boston Red Sox in 1939 after a season in which DiMaggio hit .361 and in his rookie year with the BoSox the Little Professor hit a respectable .301 with a .831 OPS.

Like brothers Joe and Vince, Dom DiMaggio missed three years of baseball to serve in the Navy during WWII.  Upon his return he helped the Red Sox make their first World Series since the trading of Babe Ruth.  Arguably the first victim of the Curse of the Bambino, Dom nearly had the chance to become a World Series hero when in the top of the 8th of Game 7 against the St. Louis Cardinals he tied the game 3-3 on a double.  Unfortunately, DiMaggio injured himself on the play and had to be removed.  The bottom of the inning saw Enos Slaughter’s famed “Mad Dash” that eventually won the series, about which Slaughter later said “If they hadn’t taken DiMaggio out of the game I wouldn’t have tried it.”

Dom maintained consistent production throughout his career, but his best year was easily 1950: he led the AL in runs, triples, and stolen bases while hitting a career best .328.  It was also during the 1950 campaign that Dom would challenge his brother with a 34 game hit streak of his own, still a Red Sox club record.  Ironically, he was denied in his 35th game on a diving catch by Joe in the 8th inning.  Dom retired 3 years later, having played his entire career for the Boston Red Sox.  A career .298 hitter, Dominic DiMaggio was a 7 time All-Star in eleven years.  He was also a feared presence in centerfield; even sibling Joe described him as “the best defensive outfielder I’ve ever seen.”  Overshadowed across the world by his older brother and overshadowed on his own team by leftfielder Ted Williams, Dominic DiMaggio is easily one of the most underrated players of his generation.  But he sure was one bad little brother and for that I, at least, will never forget him.

Side note: While on the topic of baseball’s little brothers it would be a shame not to mention Billy Ripken, younger brother of legendarily overrated Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken, Jr.  While his twelve year MLB career was nothing spectacular, William Oliver Ripken is arguably the most badass major leaguer ever, little brother or otherwise, for writing “Fuck Face” on the bottom of a bat and having the balls to use it for a Fleer baseball card shoot.  My sombrero is off to you, Mr. Billy Ripken.

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