On this date in 1941, Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio played game No. 34 of his record 56-game hitting streak. The streak spanned May 15 to July 17, 1941, and during those 56 games DiMaggio hit .408.
The Yankees had plans to celebrate the 75th anniversary of DiMaggio's streak this season, but, according to Christian Red and Michael O'Keeffe of the New York Daily News, the plans had to be scrapped due to interference by Morris Engelberg, DiMaggio's longtime lawyer. The team had planned to give away commemorative bobbleheads.
Engelberg is the trustee of the estate that controls the rights to DiMaggio's likeness, and he told Red he asked the Yankees for two things in return. One, he wanted former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani to throw out the first pitch, and two, he wanted the team to make a donation to the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Florida.
Unreasonable demands? I don't think so. They're not over the top. That said, it appears there is more to this story than simple demands. From Red:
Some members of DiMaggio's inner circle, including brother Dom DiMaggio, said Engelberg isolated the Hall of Famer from family and friends and used their relationship to enrich himself. In his bestselling biography, "Joe DiMaggio: The Hero's Life," journalist Richard Ben Cramer accused the Florida attorney of cheating DiMaggio out of several hundred thousand dollars generated by the sale of autographed baseballs and other sports memorabilia. Engelberg denied the allegations.
Red says Engelberg has also fought the cities of New York and San Francisco when they proposed renaming city features after DiMaggio, such as parks and highways.
It's too bad the fans won't be able to receive the commemorative bobblehead, but you can be sure the Yankees will celebrate DiMaggio's record hit streak at some point this season. They'll have some sort of on-field ceremony and video on the scoreboard, that sort of thing. The celebration won't be scrapped entirely.
DiMaggio played 13 seasons with the Yankees from 1936-51, though he missed the 1943-45 seasons while serving in World War II. He retired as a career .325 hitter with 2,214 hits and 361 homers. DiMaggio went to the All-Star Game all 13 seasons of his career and won three MVP awards. He passed away in 1999 at the age of 84.