Yesterday I had the pleasure of accompanying my three year old son Henry to Fenway Park to watch the Red Sox take on the Yankees. It wasn’t his first game there, but it was the first that was just the two of us, and the first where he had some chance of understanding some of the intricacies of the game (he was very disappointed when David Ortiz struck out, so much so that it was one of the first things he told his mother about when everyone woke up this morning).
So, with Henry in mind, today’s Grave of the Week is Dominic DiMaggio, a former Red Sox center fielder and brother of Yankees great Joe DiMaggio. Dom was an amazing ballplayer in his own right. He was generally seen during his time as an excellent defender, and modern statistics have born up that observation. He was also an excellent hitter for a center fielder, a position which was in his era primarily a defensive one. He had a lifetime OPS of .802 to go along with an excellent .383 OBP. He wasn’t much of a home run hitter, but hit for power decently with over 300 career doubles and over 50 triples. All of this was despite losing the prime years of his career – his age 26, 27, and 28 seasons – to service in World War II (as did his more famous teammate Ted Williams).
DiMaggio, along with Williams, Shortstop and Red Sox icon Johnny Pesky, and Hall of Fame 2B Bobby Doerr, were immortalized as “The Teammates” by historian David Halberstam in a short wistful book, and the photo that graces the book’s cover was recently turned into a statue outside Fenway.
DiMaggio, who died in 2009, is buried in my hometown, Newton Massachusetts, about a ten minute walk from my own boyhood home.