Yankees: All-Time Top Runs Producers in Franchise History

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#4 Joe DiMaggio

Whenever the name of Yankees great Joe DiMaggio comes up in conversation, the talk is almost always about one of two things; The Streak or Marilyn Monroe. However, when the talk makes a turn to baseball and overall career numbers, Dimaggio lacks a hold on any one of those numbers which typically catches your eye. And that’s because he was good at everything.

Joe DiMaggio took the number four spot in this ranking of all-time runs producers with a score of 21. He’s currently fifth in runs scored, sixth in hits, third in RBI, and seventh in on-base percentage. A treasure trove of less visible aspects of his career indicate the power of his greatness:

***DiMaggio was an All-Star in every season of his 13-year career.

***He lost three years of playing time at the peak of his prime (28-30 years of age) to join the armed forces of the United States during World War II from 1943-1945.

***He finished in the top ten in the MVP vote in 10 of his 13 seasons with the Yankees, winning the award three times outright.

***DiMaggio finished in the top 5 in assists for outfielders six times

***He won 9 World Series titles as a Yankee.

***His highest salary was a mere $100,000 (1949-1950). In today’s dollars, that’s equivalent to a fraction over $1 million (Dollar Times)

***In 7,672 plate appearances, DiMaggio struck out only 369 times. Broken down, this represents a strikeout in about 4.8% of his at-bats, or about once in every 20 at-bats.

The son of a fisherman, a story in the Boston Globe recalls that:

"“DiMaggio was shy, backward and hardly spoke at all. Traveling in a car across country in 1936 to his first spring training as a Yankee with fellow San Franciscans Tony Lazzeri and Frank Crosetti, Joe never uttered a word, until he was asked if he would like to share the driving, whereupon he said he didn’t drive.”"

Tom Boswell, the writer for the Washington Post, once described DiMaggio as “regal.” A more apt description, however, might be untouchable. Dimaggio, for instance, took great care in cultivating friendships with the great sportswriters of his day, such as Jimmy Cannon and Murray Kempton, often having dinner with them at the famed Toots Shor restaurant in New York City. Few, if any, stories about DiMaggio were critical.

In that same vein, DiMaggio rose to the level that Babe Ruth had in New York. While Ruth had a candy bar named after him, DiMaggio’s following took to songs to celebrate his celebrity. In 1941, famous bandleader Les Brown had a number one hit with a song titled, “Joltin Joe,” which you can give a listen to the song here. In later years, of course, Paul Simon would forever immortalize DiMaggio with the line from his song for the movie “The Graduate,” “Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you.”

DiMaggio rose to the level that Babe Ruth had in New York. While Ruth had a candy bar named after him, DiMaggio’s following took to songs to celebrate his celebrity.

Often compared to his arch rival as a player, Ted Williams, DiMaggio always appeared in public superbly dressed, almost always in a suit and tie, while Williams was more down to earth and casual. DiMaggio preferred nightclubs and Hollywood, while Williams often got lost for several days fishing, his whereabouts known to no one. Williams used profane language regularly, DiMaggio was never ejected from a game in his entire career.

Perhaps best described as an enigma, DiMaggio appeared to be aloof and mysterious. Catch him at a good time, and he could shower a fan with attention and good will. On another day, though, he’d be wearing that “look” that told everyone, just stay away. Following his retirement, DiMaggio took his fame to another level when he married Marilyn Monroe who, using the language of the times, was the “sex symbol” of American culture.

A definitive biography of Joe DiMaggio and highly recommended is written by Richard Ben Cramer and is available to buy or read excerpts in Google Books.