Legend has it Joe DiMaggio’s only words on a multi-day cross-country trip to his first spring training with fellow San Franciscans Tony Lazerri and Frank Crosetti were to indicate he didn’t know how to drive. A car, maybe, but upon arrival in St. Petersburg on March 2, 1936, it quickly became apparent that the 21-year-old could drive a baseball like nobody’s business.
Few original photos exist from DiMaggio’s first day in pinstripes but the RMY Auctions Photo of the Day indeed dates to the day he met Yanks’ manager Joe DiMaggio.
The International News Service photo that would be distributed to newspapers was headlined with a caption reading “Yanks’ New Outfield Beauty Reports to Manager McCarthy.” The 6 1/2″ x 7 1/4″ image shows the young DiMaggio posing with McCarthy for photographers and reporters eager to get their first look at the the Californian. Showing little wear, it’s one of nearly 500 photos up for bid in RMY’s first auction of 2018.
The word was already out that DiMaggio was a five-tool talent at age 21. He had been acquired by the Yankees in 1934 but after suffering an injury, he stayed with the Pacific Coast League’s San Francisco Seals for 1935. After winning the MVP and leading the Seals to the PCL title, he was on his way to the big leagues.
DiMaggio wouldn’t make his MLB debut until May 3 but made up for lost time by belting a Yankee rookie record of 29 homers, a mark not bested until last year when Aaron Judge broke it. DiMaggio hit .323 and knocked in 125 runs in those 138 games, leading the Yanks to the first of four straight World Series titles.
Bidding continues through Saturday at RMYAuctions.com.