Sep 11, 2015

Former Italian / American Player: Vince Dimaggio (1937-1946)

Vincent Paul "Vince" DiMaggio was born on September 6, 1912 in Martinez, California. He was the oldest of the three famous DiMaggio brothers, getting to the big leagues with the Boston Bees in 1937.

He got a starting job right away and became a fine defensive outfielder. Vince would lead all N.L. centerfielders in assists & put outs four times in his career, as well as games played three times. In his rookie year he hit .256 with 13 HRs with 69 RBIs striking out a league leading 111 times. The next season he led the league again striking out 134 times, batting just .228 with 14 HRs (10th in the league) & 41 RBIs. In two seasons with the Bees his teams finished fifth.

He was sent to the A.L. New York club and played at their AA Kansas City team where he hit .290. Later that year he was sent to the Cincinnati Reds. There he only played in ten games at the big league level over two seasons. In 1940 he was with the Pittsburgh Pirates where he had his best seasons. In 1940 he batted a career high .289 then had his best season in 1941. He was the fourth place Pirates top slugger with 21 HRs (6th in the league) driving in 100 runs (3rd in the league) with 27 doubles & batting .267, earning a few votes for the MVP award. The next two seasons he also led the Pirates in HRs both years with 15 each time.

These were war time years & offensive numbers dropped around the league, due to the fact many players were at war & there were different materials used in the baseballs. During World War II he worked at the California Ship Building Yard to help the war effort. DiMaggio had some power with his bat & some speed on the field, he would finish in the league’s top ten in HRs & stolen bases six different times. He was certainly a free swinger who struck out quite often He had over 100 strike outs in four different seasons & led the league in that department six times, including four straight years (1942-1945).

He made two All Star teams in a Pirates uniform (1943 & 1944) having a big game in 1943. He had three hits, including a 9th inning HR in the NL’s 5-3 loss at Shibe Park in Philadelphia. In 1945 he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies where he hit four grand slams on that season. He hit 19 HRs overall with 84 RBIs, leading all Phillies hitters. That year the last place Phillies only won 46 games, losing 108, DiMaggio was the only player on the team to have double figures in HRs.

In 1946 he finished out his MLB career with the New York Giants where he went hitless in 25 at bats, playing in just 15 games. Vince finished out his ten year career with batting .249 with 959 hits 125 HRs 209 doubles 24 triples 79 stolen bases & .329 on base %.

In centerfield he played 1070 games (73rd all time) with 2825 assists (63rd all time) & 123 assists (15th most all time in centerfield) posting a .981 fielding %. In 1947 he played for the Oakland Oaks in the Pacific Coast league where he was third in the league with 22 HRs while driving in 89 runs.

He played in the PCL through 1950 as one of the league's top HR & RBI men.

Retirement: After baseball he worked in the family’s DiMaggio’s Restaurant located at Fisherman’s Warf in San Francisco. His brother Joe DiMaggio became more secluded in his retirement, but Vince was more in the public eye. He passed away in 1986 in California at age 74.

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