It didn’t become official until December but by the fall of 1951, it was fairly clear Joe DiMaggio’s career was coming to an end.
The RMY Auctions Photo of the Day is a composite image created for distribution by Acme News in October of that year as stories circulated on the Yankee Clipper’s future plans. It paints a sad portrait of DiMaggio, who had struggled throughout the 1951 season while young hotshot Mickey Mantle appeared ready to assume the starring role on the club.
DiMaggio’s decline was swift. He was 36—hardly ancient—but injuries had taken their toll, especially a heel problem that made him far less effective. “I was full of aches and pains and it had become a chore for me to play,” he said. “When baseball is no longer fun, it’s no longer a game.” He did go out a winner as the Yankees captured the World Series over the Giants, their New York rivals, who earned their spot after Bobby Thomson’s famous homer.
The 7×9” horizontal image shows a pensive Joe gazing at Yankee stadium and another image of Joe walking into the distance with his son’s arm wrapped around him. It’s one of over 1,700 lots in RMY’s April Collector Auction.
The back carries an unusually large caption, detailing DiMaggio’s career and what may lie ahead. “Maybe the fans have seen him for the last time or maybe he wants to keep playing,” it reads in part. “In any case, his immortality is assured.”
The auction continues through April 15 at RMYAuctions.com.