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DiMaggio: a "defective attitude," and "hostility and resistance" to the Army

Aug 3, 2010, 5:00 PM EDT

Fascinating stuff in the Smoking Gun today regarding the Yankee Clipper: Joe DiMaggio’s army records, which paint him an a pretty unflattering light:

Despite a cushy job as a physical instructor in the Army’s Special
Services division, DiMaggio–who saw no combat, was never shipped
overseas, and spent many months stationed in Hawaii–exhibited a
“defective attitude toward the service” and a “conscious attitude of
hostility and resistance” when it came to his Army duties.

These withering critiques of DiMaggio came from two officers in the
Army’s Medical Corps. In separate reports written shortly before
DiMaggio’s discharge in September 1945, Major Emile G. Stoloff and Major
William G. Barrett each portrayed DiMaggio, then 30, as someone whose
“personal problems appeared to be of more consequence to him than his
obligations to adjust to the demands of the service.”

To be fair, the records indicate that DiMaggio had some personal issues at the time, most notably a recent divorce and some trouble with one of his brothers. There are also references to some belief that the army was exploiting him for P.R. purposes, which may have been true and may have sat with the notoriously complicated DiMaggio wrong.  Less excusable, it seems, are references in the records to DiMaggio’s alleged malingering with stomach ailments and other things that army doctors could not confirm.

I’m sure that anyone who could shed more light on these reports or place them into a larger context based on first hand information is dead by now, but it’s odd stuff to be sure. Also stuff that, I’m guessing, won’t make it into any updates into those Yankee hagiographies you see on YES Network.

  1. The Common Man - Aug 3, 2010 at 5:28 PM

    Say it with me now: “He’s still better than A-Rod.”

  2. YankeesfanLen - Aug 3, 2010 at 5:39 PM

    It’s Yankees Happy-ographies. Like the one on Attila the Hun, their left fielder from 420 til 426. He made a great teamate.

  3. Wooden U Lykteneau - Aug 3, 2010 at 5:50 PM

    Suffice it to say, the Yankee hagiographies are quite a testament to how much typing can be done with one hand.

  4. none - Aug 3, 2010 at 6:08 PM

    Here’s some second-hand context. In 1944 and ’45 there was intense resentment of 4-F (medically unfit) athletes. 12 million men and several thousand women were serving in the military, and their mamas and papas couldn’t understand how these medical rejects could be running around a ballfield with their allegedly bad knees (Vern Stephens), ankles (Lou Boudreau), backs (Marty Marion), and hearts (Hal Newhouser).
    Dozens of athletes were re-examined, found to be suddenly healthy, and drafted. If Major Stoloff ever hoped to be Colonel Stoloff, he would not discharge a star player. Of course, a discharge would have ruined DiMaggio’s reputation, but he didn’t seem to realize that.

  5. scatterbrian - Aug 3, 2010 at 6:45 PM

    How do we know Major Emile G. Stoloff and Major William G. Barrett weren’t also major Red Sox fans?

    • ILoveBaseball - May 17, 2011 at 6:29 PM

      What we do know is “The Rivalry” didn’t exist then. The Sox finished 2nd, 7th, 4th and 7th from ’42 to ’47.

  6. RedLeg15 - Aug 3, 2010 at 7:44 PM

    He is still Better than A-Roid

  7. RedLeg15 - Aug 3, 2010 at 7:48 PM

    I hope that everyone knows that Military service back then wasn’t exactly voluntary. I’m damn sure that the Army had a hell of a lot of problems with soldiers back then.
    Could you imagine the bitching and complaining if there were still a draft for military service?

  8. BringBackYaz - Aug 3, 2010 at 8:27 PM

    DiMaggio was a shithead and a coward. He couldn’t hold a candle to Williams in the guts department. A spoiled, self-centered a-hole.
    DiMaggio’s teammate, Hank Bauer’s service:
    Bauer came down with malaria almost as soon as he hit the South Pacific. “My weight dropped from 190 pounds to 160 pounds,” he said. “I was eating atabrine tablets like candy.” Temporarily recovered (over the next four years, Bauer had 24 malarial attacks), he fought on New Georgia, was hit in the back by shrapnel on Guam. Next came Emirau off New Guinea, then Okinawa. Sixty-four men were in Platoon Sergeant Bauer’s landing group on Okinawa; six got out alive. Hank himself was wounded again on June 4, 1945. “I saw this reflection of sunshine on something coming down. It was an artillery shell, and it hit right behind me.” A piece of shrapnel tore a jagged hole in Bauer’s left thigh. Also wounded that day was Richard C Goss, who was serving with Bauer. “There goes my baseball career,” Bauer told Goss as they were evacuated together. Bauer’s part in the war was over —after 32 months of combat, eleven campaign ribbons, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts.
    His brother, Herman, was not so fortunate. He was killed in action in France with the 3rd Armored Division on July 12, 1944.

  9. Paper Lions - Aug 3, 2010 at 9:07 PM

    It would be interesting to know how DiMaggio would have fared in today’s media environment. He probably would have been seen as selfish, egotistical, and recalcitrant (all of which would have been correct).

  10. normanbates71 - Aug 4, 2010 at 12:15 AM

    Too bad williams could never get it done when the games mattered, you know like in the World Series? or down the stretch? His arse got too tight when the games really mattered just like lots of redsuk players over the years

  11. bigshotrob - Aug 4, 2010 at 1:31 AM

    He got it done in WWII and Korea, way more important and way more impressive than any silly game.

  12. hooks024 - Aug 4, 2010 at 1:31 AM

    good call

  13. fiveiron - Aug 4, 2010 at 3:31 AM

    Williams wasn’t too gung-ho about military service, either. Especially about getting called to active duty in Korea. But he kept his mouth shut and did his job. Does anyone else wonder how today’s professional athletes would respond to a mandatory military obligation?

  14. kyle s - Aug 4, 2010 at 8:01 AM

    who but!

  15. DAK - Aug 4, 2010 at 8:30 AM

    Just goes to show you what an ignorant hive-mind collection of automatons the US Army was/is/will always be. Oh… that’s right it’s all about teamwork and comradeship… bah! Of course this was also back in the days of institutionalized slavery, errr… The Draft. Mindless drones saving America from all the scary monsters out in the world.

  16. DAK - Aug 4, 2010 at 8:33 AM

    [mandatory military obligation]
    Don’t mean slavery? Where the government claims ownership over your life? At least they don’t still shoot deserters on sight like the “good old days”.

  17. Braim04 - Aug 4, 2010 at 8:53 AM

    Dak – Think before you respond!! Comparing Military Service to Slavery is moronic. Serving our country is an honor – drafted or not – the price we pay for living in a free country. Where would we be without these people that served – and more importantly could you speak Japanese if the outcome were different. Have some respect.

  18. Simon DelMonte - Aug 4, 2010 at 9:51 AM

    A lot of this stuff has come out over the years. It’s clear that the stars of the past were as likely to be “jerks” as the stars of today, only the media treated them a lot differently. I’m not sure how much of this we need to hear – I think that Richard Ben Cramer’s book is a good example of ex post facto media hate – but it was always there. We just didn’t know it the way we do now for, say, A-Rod.

  19. BC - Aug 4, 2010 at 10:47 AM

    That”s exactly what DiMaggio was. He used the spotlight because he knew he could, and then the recalcitrent side would come out when it suited him. He was basically a snob to his teammates, and everything had to be done his way, he had his own rules. Interesting I’ve heard the same thing about another franchise’s icon – Cal Ripken.

  20. BC - Aug 4, 2010 at 10:49 AM

    Williams was a bas—d. Surly as all get-out with the media. The guy used to come out to Fenway before games and shoot pigeons off the Green Monster. Great player, but a downright nasty man.

  21. jo jo is smiling - Aug 4, 2010 at 11:39 AM

    he was never in the world series d***head

  22. Joker34 - Aug 4, 2010 at 3:46 PM

    Believe it or not, there is still a draft in place. It has not had to be used though due to the fact that we have enough enlisted soldiers in the army. A draft could be done at any minute though and there is nothing that anyone could do about it.

  23. normanbates71 - Aug 4, 2010 at 4:01 PM

    And if this was a History Channel message board you might have a point, but its not so STFU

  24. zac - Aug 4, 2010 at 4:06 PM

    He wasn’t? I’m sure the Cardinals would like to know who they beat in 1946, then.

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