Beyond Dimaggio: Italian Americans in Baseball

Beyond Dimaggio: Italian Americans in Baseball

Beyond Dimaggio: Italian Americans in Baseball

Beyond Dimaggio: Italian Americans in Baseball

Synopsis

Berra, Rizzuto, Lasorda, Torre, Conigliaro, Santo, Piazza. Casual baseball fans - in fact, even many nonfans - know these names, not as Italian Americans, but as some of the most colorful figures in Major League Baseball. Ever since future Hall of Famer Tony Lazzeri became a key part of the Yankees' Murderers' Row lineup of 1926, Italian Americans have been among the most prominent and intriguing players in the game. The first comprehensive study of the topic, Beyond DiMaggio is also a social history of baseball, tracing the evolution of American perceptions toward those of Italian descent as it chronicles the baseball exploits that influenced those perceptions.Lawrence Baldassaro tells the stories of Italian Americans' contributions To The game, from Joe DiMaggio, who transcended his ethnic identity to become an American icon, To A. Bartlett Giamatti, who served as commissioner of baseball, To Mike Piazza, considered the greatest hitting catcher ever. Baldassaro conducted more than fifty interviews with players, coaches, managers, and executives - some with careers dating back To The thirties - in order to put all these figures and their stories into the historical context of baseball, Italian Americans, and, finally, The culture of American sports.

Excerpt

Dom DiMaggio

This book is about the long and distinguished history of Italian Americans in Major League Baseball, a tradition I am proud to be a part of.

Like so many of the players discussed in this book, I and my brothers, Joe and Vince, were the children of Italian immigrants, people who came to this country to make a better life for their families. Giuseppe and Rosalia DiMaggio came to America from Isola delle Femmine, near Palermo, and raised nine kids. Dad worked for forty years as a fisherman in the waters of San Francisco Bay and off Catalina Island. (I joined him one year during school vacation.)

We lived in the North Beach area of San Francisco, and as kids we spent a good deal of our time at the North Beach playground, which was very near our house. There was baseball, basketball, tennis, and soccer, and we played checkers. In fact, when I was about twelve or thirteen years old, I was the champion checkers player for some period of time. We played a lot of baseball, and Joe and Vince played a little tennis.

Joe was an outstanding ballplayer from practically day one. Vince, being the oldest, played around the sandlots. Dad thought he was . . .

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