Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Old School Sportsmanship



by Seattle Jon (bio)

Read this excerpt from a recent Sports Illustrated's article on Joe DiMaggio and, like me, you'll wonder what has happened to the world of sports.

*****

Photographers knelt along both foul lines at Griffith Stadium, as if it were a World Series game, and saved their film for when DiMaggio came to bat. Motion-picture cameras were also trained upon him, to capture his historic at bats for newsreels. DiMaggio remembered to smile casually into the lens, give a short wave, a friendly salute. When he prepared to hit, swinging two bats before tossing one aside, his face revealed nothing.

Inside, though, he churned. He had been like that for days now, as he neared Sisler's record, and at times this stress affected his behavior. A couple of games back DiMaggio had done something he could not remember having done before. A pitch came in that he believed was off the plate for a ball, and when the umpire barked out, "Strike!" DiMaggio turned back and gave him a sharp look. Every strike mattered; each hitless at bat could hasten the end of the streak. Yet the moment he turned his head, DiMaggio regretted it. Looking at an umpire this way was a sign of disrespect. More than that, it was an act of insubordination, a self-inflicted scratch upon his polished image. DiMaggio simply did not question umpires. He played the game as well as he could; the rest, he felt, was not his business. So uncharacteristic was DiMaggio's reproof that the umpire was taken aback. "Honest to God, Joe, it was right down the middle," he said through his mask. DiMaggio, chiding himself, turned back to face the pitcher without saying a word.

Wikipedia (DiMaggio): here
Hall of Fame (DiMaggio): here
The Streak (Sports Illustrated): here
Image via Google Images

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