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weams

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"Baseball is our national religion, said Thorn. And belief in DiMaggio is a central tenet. I'm not pooh-poohing him. It's just that he has been the subject of so much apotheosis the elevation to the heavens that it calls for analysis from Dr. Freud rather than Branch Rickey."

This is undeniably true. DiMaggio was a great hitter, but he was nowhere near the hitter of his contemporary Ted Williams. He was a good center fielder, but he wasn't even the best defensive center fielder in his own family, for pete's sake. While one can make a good argument that DiMaggio was the best all-around player on the best team for a handful of years, to suggest as baseball fans and writers openly suggested for years following his retirement ?that DiMaggio was, at any time in his life, Baseball's Greatest Living Player is more than a little crazy. Indeed, at no time in his life was DiMaggio anything close to that, mostly because Willie Mays outlived him and still lives today.

....

Part of it was the hitting streak in 1941 which truly riveted the nation in ways that no baseball event had ever done in close to real time like that. That's pretty key. Also key: DiMaggio?s Italian-American heritage, which today may not seem like a big deal but certainly was in the 1930s and 40s, giving a lot of people a hero and role model who never truly had one in baseball. Also, don't sell short the fact that DiMaggio was the star of choice for the parents of Baby Boomers. We've seen how outsized a phenomenon can be if Boomers talk about it. You have to figure that also applies to things Boomers talk about their parents talking about, which easily extended DiMaggio?s legacy into the 60s, 70s and beyond.

...

But when you put it all together, I think the myth counts. The story counts. It's not just stats. The DiMaggio myth transcends history and you deny it at your peril. I admire his performance, I'm just letting a little air out of the balloon.

I think the same can be said about the Derek Jeter coverage of the past few years too. It's possible to let some air out of the balloon because, man, there's a lot of air in it, but let's not forget why there was air there in the first place. DiMaggio (and Jeter) were important to a lot of people. They were leaders of teams that won and the exploits of those teams are, for better or worse, put in their individual columns...

Being a Yankee counts I guess.

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Being a Yankee counts I guess.

The guy was a great all-around player who was the best player on great teams. 10 World Series appearances in 13 years. He averaged more than 6 WAR per season. Yeah, I think Ted Williams was the better hitter by a good margin, and probably that margin is enough to make him the better overall player despite being far inferior on defense. But I certainly understand the mystique surrounding DiMaggio.

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o

As much of a dream that the original Yankee Stadium (1923-1973) was to left-handed power hitters such as Ruth, Gehrig, and Maris, it was a nightmare for right-handed power hitters, such as Tony Lazzeri and Joe DiMaggio.

Down the rightfield line, it was 296 feet, the rightfield porch (known as the home run porch) stayed short for quite a while extending toward centerfield, and it (the fence) was only 4 feet high.

In left-centerfield, the fence was 457 feet from home plate.

In "short" leftfield, it was 402 feet from home plate.

Yet DiMaggio somehow managed to hit 361 career home runs in only a 13-year career, which was interrupted by World War II.

To me, THAT is some feat.

As Frobby stated, I believe that Ted Williams was a better player overall, but considering just how great Williams was himself, that is hardly a knock on DiMaggio.

I don't believe that DiMaggio is/was underrated, as the article implies.

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o

As much of a dream that the original Yankee Stadium (1923-1973) was to left-handed power hitters such as Ruth, Gehrig, and Maris, it was a nightmare for right-handed power hitters, such as Tony Lazzeri and Joe DiMaggio.

Down the rightfield line, it was 296 feet, the rightfield porch (known as the home run porch) stayed short for quite a while extending toward centerfield, and it (the fence) was only 4 feet high.

In left-centerfield, the fence was 457 feet from home plate.

In "short" leftfield, it was 402 feet from home plate.

Yet DiMaggio somehow managed to hit 361 career home runs in only a 13-year career, which was interrupted by World War II.

To me, THAT is some feat.

213 home runs on the road, 148 at home. You can definitely say that Yankee Stadium hurt his HR totals.

Ruth, on the other hand, hit his homers far enough that the short porch was pretty irrelevant to him. 347 at home, 367 on the road. Of the 347 at home, only 259 were at Yankee Stadium, with the others coming at Fenway, the Polo Grounds (where the Yankees played from 1920-22 while Ruth was in NY), and Braves Field. Gehrig only hit 251 of his 493 at home, and in his 61 homer season, Maris hit 30 in New York and 31 on the road. So, I think it's far to say that Yankee Stadium punished the RH hitters but wasn't terribly favorable to LH hitters compared to other ballparks, despite the short porch down the foul line.

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213 home runs on the road, 148 at home. You can definitely say that Yankee Stadium hurt his HR totals.

Ruth, on the other hand, hit his homers far enough that the short porch was pretty irrelevant to him. 347 at home, 367 on the road. Of the 347 at home, only 259 were at Yankee Stadium, with the others coming at Fenway, the Polo Grounds (where the Yankees played from 1920-22 while Ruth was in NY), and Braves Field. Gehrig only hit 251 of his 493 at home, and in his 61 homer season, Maris hit 30 in New York and 31 on the road. So, I think it's far to say that Yankee Stadium punished the RH hitters but wasn't terribly favorable to LH hitters compared to other ballparks, despite the short porch down the foul line.

The left-handed batters were undoubtedly helped by the extremely short porch in right field in the original Yankee Stadium, regardless of the splits that you alluded to. Maris always proudly pointed to the fact that he hit one more home run on the road than he did at home in his historical 1961 season when people would cite the Yankee Stadium right field home run porch, but that does not mean that he didn't benefit greatly from the home run porch. I believe that those splits (30/31) show that he would have been an outstanding power hitter that would have hit at least at least 54 or 55 home runs no matter what team that he was playing for and/or what stadium he was playing in (as were Ruth and Gehrig during their careers), but not likely the 61-home run hitter that he was that year.

If the dimensions of the stadium had been reversed, I suspect that DiMaggio would very likely have hit well over 400 home runs, even though he only played for 13 season. I suspect that the tape-measure monster Ruth still would have wound up with at least 660 home runs, and as many as 690 or 700 (instead of the 714 total that he wound up with), and Gehrig (493) probably would have had between 450 and 475.

The bottom though, is that Maris hit his 61 home runs fair and square (and as you and Maris himself pointed out, more than half of those home runs came on the road), and it is a real shame that he had to live the remainder of his life with skepticism from the critics and an asterisk next to his record from the commissioner(s) of baseball.

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There are five CFers at the top of the charts among historians:

Willie Mays

Ty Cobb

Tris Speaker

Mickey Mantle

Joe DiMaggio

How they are ranked within that group has been up for debate, but DiMaggio is usually 5th because of this shortened career. The biggest question is how much he missed due to WWII.

Beyond DiMaggio, you are looking at Ken Griffey Jr. squarely in 6th and a precipitous drop-off after that (Billy Hamilton & friends). But DiMaggio if you recall was called "the greatest living baseball player" by the Yankee public announcers until the day he died. Erroneously. So yes, Joltin' Joe was an all-time great, but still kind of overrated in his later years. Now days, I think that swell has died down appropriately.

Happy 100th to the DiMaggio family!

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There are five CFers at the top of the charts among historians:

Willie Mays

Ty Cobb

Tris Speaker

Mickey Mantle

Joe DiMaggio

How they are ranked within that group has been up for debate, but DiMaggio is usually 5th because of this shortened career. The biggest question is how much he missed due to WWII.

Beyond DiMaggio, you are looking at Ken Griffey Jr. squarely in 6th and a precipitous drop-off after that (Billy Hamilton & friends). But DiMaggio if you recall was called "the greatest living baseball player" by the Yankee public announcers until the day he died. Erroneously. So yes, Joltin' Joe was an all-time great, but still kind of overrated in his later years. Now days, I think that swell has died down appropriately.

Happy 100th to the DiMaggio family!

Where is Paul Blair?

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There are five CFers at the top of the charts among historians:

Willie Mays

Ty Cobb

Tris Speaker

Mickey Mantle

Joe DiMaggio

How they are ranked within that group has been up for debate, but DiMaggio is usually 5th because of this shortened career. The biggest question is how much he missed due to WWII.

Beyond DiMaggio, you are looking at Ken Griffey Jr. squarely in 6th and a precipitous drop-off after that (Billy Hamilton & friends). But DiMaggio if you recall was called "the greatest living baseball player" by the Yankee public announcers until the day he died. Erroneously. So yes, Joltin' Joe was an all-time great, but still kind of overrated in his later years. Now days, I think that swell has died down appropriately.

Happy 100th to the DiMaggio family!

It is my understanding that DiMaggio insisted upon being introduced as the greatest living ballplayer. He was a quiet man but had a big ego and was extremely image-conscious.

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The left-handed batters were undoubtedly helped by the extremely short porch in right field in the original Yankee Stadium, regardless of the splits that you alluded to.

Obviously, it helps to play on a field where it is 296 down the line. However, Yankee Stadium was 425 feet to right center when Ruth played, 407 when Maris played. So, any cheap homers down the line may have been countervailed by long fly outs/doubles to right center that would have been homers in other ballparks.

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Obviously, it helps to play on a field where it is 296 down the line. However, Yankee Stadium was 425 feet to right center when Ruth played, 407 when Maris played. So, any cheap homers down the line may have been countervailed by long fly outs/doubles to right center that would have been homers in other ballparks.

That was deep right center. "Short" right center was 350 feet when Ruth played, and 367 when Maris played. They called it the "home run porch" because it stayed short for a considerable distance. Also, as I stated, the wall was 4 feet high in that portion of the stadium.

There's a reason why it was called "the home run porch," and I don't believe that it was exaggerated in terms of the ease that it provided for left-handed power hitters to get a few extra home runs than usual when they played regularly in that stadium. Just the fact that Maris himself would often proudly point to the fact that he hit 31 home runs on the road and 30 at home would tend to bear witness to that.

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That was deep right center. "Short" right center was 350 feet when Ruth played, and 367 when Maris played. They called it the "home run porch" because it stayed short for a considerable distance. Also, as I stated, the wall was 4 feet high in that portion of the stadium.

There's a reason why it was called "the home run porch," and I don't believe that it was exaggerated in terms of the ease that it provided for left-handed power hitters to get a few extra home runs than usual when they played regularly in that stadium. Just the fact that Maris himself would often proudly point to the fact that he hit 31 home runs on the road and 30 at home would tends to bear witness to that.

Maris as a Yankee:

1960 - 13 HR at home, 26 on the road

1961 - 30/31

1962 - 19/14

1963 - 11/12

1964 - 10/16

1965 - 4/4 (injured much of the year)

1966 - 7/6

Totals as a Yankee: 94 at home, 109 on the road.

Ruth in Yankee Stadium:

1923: 19/22

1924: 24/22

1925: 11/14

1926: 23/24

1927: 28/32

1928: 29/25

1929: 21/25

1930: 26/23

1931: 24/22

1932: 19/22

1933: 22/12

1934: 13/9

Totals: 259 in Yankee Stadium, 254 on the road.

Gehrig, as stated previously, was 251 in Yankee Stadium, 242 on the road.

I stand by my statement that overall, any advantage that Yankee Stadium provided to LH power hitters was pretty slight. The disadvantage it provided to RH hitters was much, much stronger.

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Where is Paul Blair?

Good question. He was a truly a superb defender in CF, but he didn't have any longevity with the bat. Bill James ranked Blair the #66 CF of all time in his Historical Baseball Abstract (2001), three spots behind Brady Anderson at #63. Presumably in his eyes, that ranking has gone down a bit with the new crop of players.

I used to be the Oriole moderator on a baseball history forum where we have a Hall of Fame section. When we examined Blair, one remarked that we could easily come up with 35-40 CFers off the top of our head we'd put ahead of him. And he's probably right.

Blair is #358 all time among position players in rWAR. I'll try to list the top 60:

156.2 Willie Mays

151.0 Ty Cobb

133.7 Tris Speaker

109.7 Mickey Mantle

83.6 Ken Griffey Jr

78.2 Joe DiMaggio

68.2 Kenny Lofton

67.5 Carlos Beltran

66.5 Duke Snider

63.4 Richie Ashburn

63.3 Billy Hamilton

62.8 Andruw Jones

60.5 Willie Davis

60.3 Jim Edmonds

56.0 Johnny Damon

55.6 Jim Wynn

55.5 Chet Lemon

54.2 Max Carey

54.1 Vada Pinson

52.7 Cesar Cedeno

50.9 Kirby Puckett

50.3 Torii Hunter

49.6 Ellis Burks

49.5 Larry Doby

49.4 Brett Butler

49.4 Bernie Williams

48.0 Earl Averill

47.0 Devon White

46.5 Mike Cameron

46.2 Dale Murphy

46.0 Willie Wilson

45.2 Edd Roush

44.6 Paul Hines

44.0 Steve Finley

43.5 Jimmy Ryan

43.4 Al Oliver

43.1 Fielder Jones

43.0 Hugh Duffy

42.6 Amos Otis

42.5 Earle Combs

42.2 Lenny Dykstra

42.1 Wally Berger

41.7 Curt Flood

41.3 Ben Chapman

41.2 Andy Van Slyke

40.9 George Van Haltren

40.6 Pete Browning

40.4 Mike Griffin

40.2 Roy Thomas

40.1 Clyde Milan

39.8 George Gore

38.8 Hack Wilson

38.0 Ray Lankford

37.8 Paul Blair

37.1 Cy Williams

36.7 Andy Pafko

36.6 Garry Maddox

36.5 Curtis Granderson

35.9 Eric Davis

34.8 Brady Anderson

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