Three DiMaggio brothers played professional baseball. Other than the shared profession and surname, the similarities between the siblings were few. Tom Clavin deconstructs their careers, lives, personalities and relations in The DiMaggios: Three Brothers, Their Passion for Baseball, Their Pursuit of the American Dream.
Bill’s thoughts on The DiMaggios
Joe DiMaggio was the most accomplished of the three ball-playing DiMaggios. All you had to do was ask him. Throughout his post-baseball life, he insisted that whenever he appeared in public, he must be introduced as “the greatest living ballplayer.”
Joe’s older brother Vince should have been able to take some pride in Joe’s achievement, since Vince was the one who paved the way for Joe in semi-pro and minor league ball on the West Coast. But Joe did not seem inclined to give Vince that sort of credit, and the oldest of the three brothers to play Major League ball never felt much gratitude from his superstar sibling, or even had much contact with him when they’d both grown older.
It’s younger brother Dominic who emerges as the most fortunate and admirable of the three in Tom Clavin’s new book. Unlike Joe, whom Clavin describes as aloof even with his long-time teammates, Dominic created and sustained strong bonds with not only his fellow Red Sox, but with his opponents as well. Whereas Joe grew to be ever more lonely, suspicious, and demanding after his baseball career ended, Dominic, a successful and generous business man after retiring from the game, was surrounded by loving family members and friends.The DiMaggios is a story about a family that’s intriguing for lots of reasons. That an immigrant fisherman and his wife should produce three Major League ballplayers is exceptionally unlikely, certainly, especially given that Giuseppe DiMaggio initially thought it folly for his young sons to be playing a game when they could be helping him catch fish. But that the three Major Leaguers should develop so differently from one another is at least as interesting, and it’s the recognition of that circumstance that makes The DiMaggios an especially good book.