- OF, 2B, SS, 3B
- September 6, 1912
- 5' 11"
- 183 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 4-19-1937 with BSN
Vincent Paul "Vince" DiMaggio (September 6, 1912 - October 3, 1986) was a Major League Baseball center fielder. During a 10-year baseball career, he played for the Boston Bees (1937-1938), Cincinnati Reds (1939-1940), Pittsburgh Pirates (1940-1945), Philadelphia Phillies (1945-1946), and New York Giants (now San Francisco Giants) (1946). Vince was the older brother of Joe and Dom DiMaggio.
It’s never easy being the sibling of an icon; just ask the Murray clan when compared to their most famous brother Bill. Vince DiMaggio was a major league player, just like his two brothers, Dom and Joe, and once made the claim that he was every bit the defensive player that the great Yankee Clipper was, that was where the comparison ended, as Vince was to the strikeout what Joe was to the hitting streak.
The oldest DiMaggio was very efficient at striking out, setting a major league record in his second season with the Braves by whiffing 134 times, it was 31 more than the previous record. He struck out 837 times in 10 major league seasons compared to Joe’s 369 in twice the at bats.
Probably the most successful thing Vince did in his early career was recommend the Yankee Hall of Famer to the San Francisco Seals.
The early years
Vince broke in with the 1932 Tucson Lizards, hitting .347 with 25 homers and 81 RBI. He led the Arizona-Texas League in home runs, with eight more than runner-up Cal Lahman - this was accomplished even though he finished the year with the San Francisco Seals, for whom he hit .270 with another 6 long balls. A year later, he hit .333 with 11 HR and 65 RBI as a full-timer for San Francisco and the Hollywood Stars. His average fell to .288 with Hollywood in 1934, but he improved his other Triple Crown statistics to include 17 HR and 91 RBI at age 21. Joe had now taken his place on the Seals roster. In 1935 the elder DiMaggio batted .278 with 24 HR and 112 RBI, tied for 5th in the Pacific Coast League in homers and tied for 8th in RBI. He drove in 102 and homered 19 times for the 1936 San Diego Padres, hitting .293. He tied for sixth in the PCL in circuit clouts that season.
Vince began his major-league career with two years as a regular outfielder on the 1937 Bees and 1938 Bees. Hitting .256/.311/.387 with 13 home runs in 1937 at the age of 24, he was second on the team in home runs behind Gene Moore ("Rowdy" Moore), who had quite a few more at-bats than Vince. Joe DiMaggio had broken in the previous year, while Dom would not make the majors for several more years. In 1938, Vince hit only .228/.313/.369, but was the team leader with 14 home runs on a team that hit 54 home runs in total. He was 10th in the National League in homers, sixth in steals and 8th in walks in a well-rounded season. In both 1937 and 1938, he struck out more often than anyone else in the NL.
His 134 strikeouts in 1938 was a National League record for the most strikeouts, not to be surpassed until the 1960's. Kansas City superstar
He was traded to the Yankees, Joe's team, in February of 1939, but never played a game for the team. Most of 1939 was spent in the minors, where he showed substantial power for the Kansas City Blues. He cranked out 46 homers, the second-highest total to that point by a right-handed hitter in the American Association, leading the AA by 13 over Phil Weintraub. As the top power threat on the most successful AA team ever (judging by total wins), Vince also led the league with 136 RBI, two more than Ab Wright. Traded to the Cincinnati Reds in August of that year, he got into 8 games for them, hitting .071. The next year he appeared in two more games with the Reds before being traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he was to spend the bulk of his career.
The Pittsburgh years
After spending 3 ½ years in the majors, the Pirates were looking for replacements in their outfield for the departed Waner Brothers, and the thought Vince DiMaggio fit the bill as one of their new parts along with Maurice Van Robays and Bob Elliott. The picked him up in a May, 8th, 1940 trade with Cincinnati for Johnny Rizzo.
While DiMaggio still struck out a lot when he came to the Steel City, he proved to be one of the best power hitters in during the early 40’s as well as the war years in general. He hit 19 homers in 1940 before having the best year of his career in his first full season as a Pirate, 1941. DiMaggio cracked career bests with 21 homers with 100 RBI’s that season.
Two years later, Vince had the best moment in his career as he made his first mid-summer classic in 1943. DiMaggio went 3 for 3 with a triple and homer in what arguably was the best performance by a Pirate in All-Star game history.
The California native made one more all-star game appearance in 1944, before being involved in an episode that for all intents and purposes cost him his Pittsburgh career. He went with the team to eat a late dinner in Philadelphia and when the bill came it included a 20% entertainment gratuity. He charged the bill to the team and the front office was not happy. They refused to pay it and DiMaggio was irritated. They sent him to the Phils before the 1945 season and he would come back to haunt the team with a pinch hit grand slam homer on June 2nd of that season in a game that the Pirates luckily held on to win 7-6. Vince went on to hit 4 grand slams that season.
After the war concluded and the players returned to rejoin their old teams, DiMaggio only lasted one season, hitting .091 in 44 at bats in 1946, finishing his career with 125 homers and 70 fielding runs to Joe’s 51. Yes Vince may certainly have been a better outfielder than his younger brother, but let the comparisons end there.
He was a two-time All-Star selection (1943-44). In the 1944 All-Star game, DiMaggio hit a home run, triple and single in three at-bats. The next year he belted four grand slams for the Phillies.
In his ten year career, Vince DiMaggio batted .249 with 125 home runs and 584 RBI in 1110 games. He died in North Hollywood, California at age 74.
Career highlights and awards
* 2x All-Star: (1943, 1944)
Pittsburgh Pirates Encyclopedia
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