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The DiMaggios, Boston, January 1955

The DiMaggios, Boston, January 1955

Dom DiMaggio, former centre fielder for the Boston Red Sox, has died aged 92. Known as the ‘little professor’ because of his bespectacled appearance and short, skinny build, Dom played major league baseball for ten seasons.

Dominic Paul DiMaggio was born in San Francisco, the youngest of nine children of Sicilian immigrants. His two oldest brothers, Mike and Tom, worked on fishing boats with their father, Giuseppe. But his brothers Vince and Joe starred in the outfield for the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League. Dom was signed by the Seals for the 1937 season, when Joe was in his second year with the Yankees and Vince was a rookie outfielder for the Boston Braves.

Inevitably, Dom’s considerable achievements have sometimes been overshadowed by those of his legendary older brother, Joe DiMaggio. He didn’t make the Hall of Fame, partly because, like many other players of his generation, he spent three of his prime years in the military during World War II.

But Dom DiMaggio was an intense, aggressive player and a superb fielder, possessing great range and a powerful throwing arm. He led the American League twice in runs scored and once in triples, batted .300 four times and had a career average of .298 over 11 seasons, all with the Red Sox. He was a seven-time All-Star.

After he retired in 1953, Dom became a successful businessman in the Boston area and was a founding partner of the Boston Patriots, now the NFL’s New England Patriots. He used his mathematical abilities to play the stock market. “He’d watch the stock ticker all day and the Red Sox all night,” his son said.

Dom was one of the first to learn of the romance between Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe, which led to their brief marriage in 1954 and a  friendship which lasted until Marilyn’s death. Marilyn quickly grew close to Joe’s relatives, and was considered part of the family. Joe arranged Marilyn’s funeral in 1962, and had a dozen red roses delivered to her grave each week for another twenty years.

Joe died in 1999. Vince DiMaggio, who played 10 seasons in the major leagues and was twice an All-Star, died in 1986. Dom DiMaggio is survived by his wife, Emily; his sons Dominic Jr., of Atkinson, N.H., and Peter, of Westford, Mass.; his daughter, Emily DiMaggio of Wayland, Mass.; and six grandchildren.