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New book highlights the DiMaggio brothers' MLB careers

05/11/2013 8:27 PM ET
By Matt Hughes

Dom DiMaggio of the Boston Red Sox, left, and his brother Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees are shown, on July 12, 1949.(AP)
A new book highlights the DiMaggio brothers' rivalry and love.

Joe DiMaggio, the Yankee Clipper, is a Hall of Fame player and one of baseball's iconic figures. Lesser known are the terrific careers of Joe's brothers. Dom DiMaggio was a Boston Red Sox great who many baseball insiders argue should be in the Hall of Fame. Vince DiMaggio was a two-time All Star for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Joe's legacy was forever cemented with nine World Series championships, three MVP awards and a 56-game hitting streak with the Yankees. His rare combination of power and grace were symbolic of the Yankees' dominance of the era. Joe retired in 1951.

Dom was a seven-time All Star for the Red Sox and one of the best center fielders of his generation. A contact hitter, Dom finished his ten-year career with a .298 average and is one of only five outfielders to ever record 500 or more putouts in one season. With little fanfare, Dom retired in 1953.

The oldest of the three brothers, Vince was the first DiMaggio to break into professional baseball. Playing with four Major League teams in ten seasons, Vince hit his stride in the relative obscurity of Pittsburgh -- far removed from the spotlight of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. He was a two-time All Star before retiring in 1946.

The rivalry between Joe and Dom was symbolic of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry of their time. While Joe's Yankees ran roughshod over the American League, winning nine World Series championships, Dom's very good Red Sox teams mustered just one pennant.

During a game at Yankee Stadium in May 1946, Joe called out to Dom, "It's 32-21," as the brothers passed by each other between innings. Joe had just taken a hit away from Dom by scaling the wall in deep center field. The brothers kept track of the number of times one of them had taken a hit away from the other -- and only the brothers knew Dom was in the lead.

On Aug. 9, 1949, Dom put his 34-game hitting streak on the line at a game at Yankee Stadium. During his final at-bat of the day, Dom hit a hard line drive to the outfield that Joe tracked down -- putting a halt to any notion that Dom might approach Joe's record 56-game hit streak.

Dom, known as a true gentleman across baseball, never expressed any resentment towards playing in Joe's shadow. He was the American League's player representative before the player's union was formed and went on to found a successful textile business after retiring as a player.

World War II interrupted the baseball careers of all three DiMaggio brothers. Joe and Dom each served in the military while Vince worked for a Naval shipbuilder.

More than 350 sets of brothers have played in Major League Baseball but the DiMaggio brothers are the only set to have been All Stars.

"The DiMaggios: Three Brothers, Their Passion for Baseball, Their Pursuit of the American Dream," by Tom Clavin, is to be published this month by Ecco/Harper Collins.

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