Joe DiMaggio was young and playing ball on the other side of the country but he was no secret.
The New York Yankees caught wind of the speedy outfielder from northern California who had incredible coordination, speed and a little power to boot. By the late summer of 1935, the San Francisco Seals gave their native son a proper send-off. Now, a long-lost news photo of the young prospect, posing with the spoils of Joe DiMaggio Day at Seals Stadium is on the auction block. Surrounded by flowers while holding his new travel bag and hat box, the 20-year-old would find international fame in New York.
The 6 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ photo is one of hundreds of vintage photos in RMY Auctions’ December online catalog.
DiMaggio had caught the attention of scouts almost immediately after he joined the Pacific Coast League in 1932. Just a teenager, DiMaggio was no Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig. Not yet, anyway. Still, the Yankees would be hot on his trail. He’d actually been acquired by the Yanks in November of 1934 at a price of $25,000 and five players from New York’s minor league system. However, the Yanks wanted to be sure they weren’t getting damaged goods. DiMaggio had suffered a knee injury stepping out of a cab during the ’34 season. The Yankees demanded that he stay in San Francisco for the ’35 season and get an examination in Los Angeles to ensure he’d fully recover in time.
DiMaggio held up his end of the bargain, winning the PCL’s MVP award with a .398 average, 34 homers and 154 RBI. It was a bittersweet time for the Seals, who would be letting their marquee player go but the farewell day was a celebration of what he’d done for the franchise.
The International News photo contains a full caption, still attached to the back.
The auction continues through Saturday, December 18 at RMYAuctions.com.