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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Joe DiMaggio: when did he get that eye infection in September 1939 that cost him a .400 batting average?

Some New York Times reports on Joe DiMaggio, who started slumping Sept. 10, 1939, which he started batting .409, when he went 0 for 4 in both games of a doubleheader with a strike out in each game:

DiMaggio Hits 27th Homer as Yanks Triumph
September 08, 1939 - By JOHN DREBINGER

Joe DiMaggio touched off his twenty-seventh homer of the campaign in the first inning... his second homer in as many days into the lower left wing of the grand stand ...

DiMaggio batting .408

DiMaggio, who drew a pass in one of his four trips to the plate and hit two blows in three official times up, boosted his batting mark to .408. The homer also gave him his 119th run driven in.


Yanks victors 5-2
September 10, 1939

DiMaggio is suffering from a cold. Observers yesterday wondered what he'd do if if he really felt like himself...

Wright a double in the third when DiMagg missed a shoe-string catch of his fly.


Yankees Now Seeking to Surpass Their 1932 Mark of 107 Triumphs
September 10, 1939

DiMaggio's dual quest of winning his first American League batting championship and doing that with a magic .400 mark is equally certain to keep Jolting Joe banging away at top speed right down to the wire. To Maintain that terrific pace to the end means that the Great DiMadge cannot suffer himself to have a letdown for a single game...

... there is little likelihood that the Bronx Bombers are apt to sit around twiddling their thumbs until the world series ...


Senators defeated 4-3 and 6-2, ...
September 11, 1939 - By JAMES P. DAWSON

DiMaggio goes hitless

... the only jarring note ... was the misery that befell Joe DiMaggio ... the great DiMag didn't get a hit...

DiMag tried his hardest for a hit. He almost tore Umpire Summer's arm off with a blazing drive that went foul in the first inning of the opener and in the third Welej had to go back almost to the 457-sign for his towering fly. Joe suffered an 8-point drop in his batting average, to .401.


Feller Wins No. 21 for Indians, 9-4
Bobby Strikes Out Six Yanks

By Arthur J. Daley, September 14, 1939

... Joe DiMaggio (out of his slump at last with a pair of singles) ...

DiMaggio Picked Off First

DiMaggio was so engrossed by his single in the fourth, his first after fourteen hitless turns at the plate, that he fell asleep at first base. Feller picked him off ...


No mention of an eye infection yet.

... DiMaggio held to .388 batting pace

September 18, 1939 By JOHN DREBINGER

... Although DiMaggio started the day with a rush, he slowed down badly. He got only one blow in four tries in the nightcap, leaving his mark at .388.


Still no mention of an eye infection. DiMaggio was 2 for 4, then 1 for 4. So when did DiMaggio get an eye infection? What is the origin of that story?

Joe DiMaggio .400 batting average lost in 1939 due to: eye infection, manager, himself? Tuesday, October 18, 2016

"Joe DiMaggio: Hero's Life" by Richard Ben Cramer 2000, page 138:

... infection ... left eye, swelling it near shut...

Cramer's description of an eye swollen nearly shut seemed over the top prior to reading some 1939 articles covering the Yankees when DiMaggio should have had that eye infection. Now it seems absurd. The beat writers would have noticed a swollen eye on the Great DiMaggio. There is no reason for them to have suppressed that. One article written Sept. 10, 1939 states: "DiMaggio is suffering from a cold."

That seems to be the only reference that anything is wrong with DiMaggio. Many articles are praising him as an all time great player in only his fourth season.


Added Oct. 28, 2016:

from: Clifford Blau
to: Ken Matinale
date: Thu, Oct 27, 2016 at 4:57 PM
subject: Re: Radical Baseball: Joe DiMaggio .400 batting average lost in 1939 due to: eye infection, manager, himself?

I searched in the Sporting News and ProQuest Historical Newspapers on "Joe DiMaggio" and "eye" September to December 1939 and didn't find anything.

Cliff Blau


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