Reflecting on the youngest DiMaggio brother, his time with the Red Sox, his contribution to baseball, and the person he was outside of baseball.
Dom DiMaggio, also known as “The Little Professor”, was a centerfield lifer for the Boston Red Sox from 1940-1953 (missing 1943-1945 because of a commitment to the Military).
Where did the nickname come from? Dom was listed at 5’9, typically carried a serious expression and always wore glasses. At the time, this was a rarity. Dom was the youngest of the DiMaggio brothers trio that made it into MLB.
Ironically, his brothers Joe DiMaggio and Vince DiMaggio were also centerfielders in the Majors. Joe DiMaggio played for the New York Yankees for 13 years. He was a 3-time MVP, 13-time All-Star and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He missed 1943-1945 because of his commitment to the Military.
Vince DiMaggio played for 10 years and spent time with the Pittsburgh Pirates (5 years), Philadelphia Phillies (2 years), Boston Bees (2 years), Cincinnati Reds (2 years), and New York Giants (1 year). Vince was a 2-time All-Star. While Joe was considered the superstar, Dom was the better outfielder as he had a stronger arm.
Dom was an effective leadoff hitter. Over the span of his 11 years in the league, the most he struck out was 68 times. As Bleacher Report’s Evan Brunell reports, he held many records including having a minimum of 400 putouts 4 times.
More from Red Sox History
- Two notable Red Sox anniversaries highlight current organizational failures
- Contemporary Era Committee doesn’t elect any former Red Sox to Hall of Fame
- Johnny Damon calls Red Sox out, reveals hilarious way he skirted Yankees’ grooming policy
- Remembering the best Red Sox Thanksgiving ever
- Red Sox World Series legends headline 2023 Hall of Fame ballot
Dom had a career .298 BA, .383 OBP, and a .419 SLG. He was a 7-time All-Star and had 9 Hall of Fame Voting Results. The Little Professor appeared on the Top 10 leaders board numerous times including 9 seasons for Double Plays Turned as a CF; 7 seasons for Runs Scored, Hits, Stolen Bases, and Assists as an Outfielder; 5 seasons for Double Plays Turned; 3 seasons for Batting Average and On-Base Percentage; and 2 seasons for Fielding Percentage and Offensive Win Percentage.
What would have happened if Dom had not missed those three years in his prime? He had the most base hits (1,697) during his 10 seasons. The players that followed closely behind him have all made it into the Hall of Fame.
As New York Times’ Tom Clavin notes, he was both an incredible player on the field and an incredible man off the field. Before the players union was formed, he acted as a representative on behalf of the players. He was a team player, who put more emphasis on the team than on setting individual records. After reflecting about his 34-game hitting streak coming to an end in 1949 he said,
"“But the streak was over, and I didn’t mind that much. (After all, we’d won the game, 6-3.) And hitting streaks didn’t matter to me, even when I hit in another 27 straight in 1951. It’s just a statistic.”"
When reflecting on his most memorable compliments, he explains that he was happy doing what was asked of him in his role. He never sought out individual recognition. As he mentions,
"“I think one of the finest compliments paid to me was from my own teammate, Bobby Doerr. He said to me on more than one occasion, “Dommy, if you had been batting fifth or sixth in the lineup, I am positive you would drive in 100 runs a year.” That to me was the ultimate compliment. Just like the streak, I did what my job called for.”"
Retirement didn’t slow Dom down. He was considered a very successful businessman in Boston known for his knack with the stock market. Dom was one of the founding partners of the Boston (now New England) Patriots football team.
BoSox Injection’s Sean Penney named Dom as one of the Red Sox top five center fielders. He passed away in July of 2009 at the age of 92. He’ll be remembered as a baseball great. We’ll never know what could have happened if he hadn’t lost those three seasons. As Red Sox fans, we got to experience and learn from him both on and off the field.