default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Logout|My Dashboard

When Joltin’ Joe wore an Oakland A’s uniform

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Saturday, October 6, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 5:41 am, Sat Oct 6, 2012.

The Oakland A's are one of baseball's biggest 2012 surprises. Right up along with the A's are the Baltimore Orioles. The two franchises surprised baseball pundits who predicted this spring that the teams would extend their long losing histories.

As the A's rose in the standings during the season's last weeks, I dug deep into my baseball library and found a 1968 Athletics yearbook which contains two Joe DiMaggio images that, although I have seen them dozens of times, still cause me to pause.

First there's Joe, the great New York Yankee Clipper, decked out in an A's uniform — white and green cap, sleeveless jersey and blindingly white cleats. Second, there's Joe again, this time in a green khaki military uniform he wore during a Vietnam Goodwill tour he made with thenCommissioner Bowie Kuhn during the late 1960. Several baseball stars accompanied DiMaggio, including Pete Rose.

DiMaggio had a military history. In 1943, DiMaggio enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed in Santa Ana, Hawaii and Atlantic City, N.J. before his 1945 discharge.

How DiMaggio landed in Oakland and thereby returned to his California roots is story long since forgotten. In 1914 DiMaggio, the eighth of nine children, was born in Martinez to his Italian immigrant parents. When Joe was a year old, his family moved to San Francisco. Desperate to get out of working on his father's fishing boat, DiMaggio took up baseball. DiMaggio soon joined his brother Vince on the legendary San Francisco Seals. Another brother, Dom, also played major league baseball.

DiMaggio tore up the Pacific Coast League and in 1935 was named the Most Valuable Player. Soon thereafter, the Seals sold DiMaggio's contract to the New York Yankees and his Hall of Fame career took off. By the time DiMaggio's playing days ended, he had 13 All-Star Game appearances, nine World Series titles, three Most Valuable Player crowns and still holds a Major League record of hitting safely in 56 consecutive games.

But when DiMaggio retired in 1951, he lacked two years to qualify for the league's maximum pension allowance. The A's maverick owner, Charles O. Finley, had just moved his chronically last place Kansas City franchise to Oakland and was looking to make a public relations splash. Using all of his persuasive selling skills that he honed in his insurance salesman career, Finley eventually convinced DiMaggio to sign a two-year contract as the A's Executive Vice President and Consultant.

Exactly how much influence DiMaggio may have had on the young A's players is hard to measure. But in 1968, the A's won 20 more games (82) than the team did in the previous year. And the A's posted their first winning record since 1952 when the team was a perennial cellar dweller in Philadelphia.

Certainly DiMaggio had to be impressed with the A's young talent: Catfish Hunter and Reggie Jackson, two future Hall of Famers, as well as Joe Rudi, Bert Campaneris, Sal Bando and Gene Tenace.

Sunday, the A's take on the Tigers in Detroit. Of course, since like DiMaggio I'm also a California native, I'm rooting for the A's. I give general manager Billy Beane a hat tip for helping the A's reach the playoffs despite a next-to-last $55 million payroll opposed to the Tigers' fifth highest, $132 million.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don’t pretend you’re someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don’t threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don’t insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the ‘Report’ link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.
  • 9 Don’t be a troll.
  • 10 Don’t reveal personal information about other commenters. You may reveal your own personal information, but we advise you not to do so.
  • 11 We reserve the right, at our discretion, to monitor, delete or choose not to post any comment. This may include removing or monitoring posts that we believe violate the spirit or letter of these rules, or that we otherwise determine at our discretion needs to be monitored, not posted, or deleted.

Welcome to the discussion.

Recent Comments

Posted 11 hours ago by Shane Marcus.

article: Letter: No one’s faith should be scorned

I will only comment on one part of this story. And that is, the lame stream media's right to say just about anything they want to, is onl…


Posted 11 hours ago by Ed Walters.

article: Letter: Ron Portal’s letters repeat the…

DelSolar: You make a short list of Barry`s accomplishments in 6 years, and the next two years he will be just a guest worker at the White…


Posted 11 hours ago by Shane Marcus.

article: Letter: Eat at Chili’s to help Raymond …

I'll help you out, just as soon as you help me pay my bills


Posted 11 hours ago by Shane Marcus.

article: JoAnne Mounce: California gas tax is a …

Taxes! Taxes drive me crazy, but I have to admit the taxes paid by all are far from enough dollars to keep state or even Lodi roads well-ma…


Posted 13 hours ago by Steve Schmidt.

article: Ku Klux Klan expands membership in 1920…

Thanks Christina. It makes me happy to know that thoughtful people like yourself are educating our children.



Popular Stories



Your News

News for the community, by the community.

Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists