From the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Richard Ben Cramer, here is the definitive story of Joe DiMaggio's life -- the story that DiMaggio never would tell. This groundbreaking biography of DiMaggio -- from his first game with the Yankees in the 1930's through his rise to national hero status, and onto his lonely and mysterious death last year -- reveals startling information about his life, but becomes much more than one man's story. In Cramer's hands, DiMaggio's complicated life becomes, too, the story of America's media machine, the invention of a national celebrity in America, and the ways in which fame can both build and destroy.
Joe DiMaggio sat on the tar of the playground, with his back against the wall on the Powell Street side, his legs cocked in front of him like a couple of pickets. At fifteen, Joe was mostly legs -- leg-bones, more like it -- and a head taller than his friends. It was Niggy Fo who gave him his nickname, Coscilunghi -- that meant "Long-legs" in Sicilian.
All the boys on the North Beach playground had names -- that meant you were in, you belonged there. There was Shabby Minafo and his brother, Bat (he only wanted to bat), and Hungry Geraldi (he could really eat); Friggles Tomei had those fancy feet at second base; Lodigiani they called Dempsey, because he once decked a guy in a fight; and Niggy, of course, got his name for his dark skin. They were always on the playground or on the street. Who had room at home? On this spring afternoon, in 1930, they were playing Piggy on a Bounce -- one guy with a bat, everyone else in the field, and one guy would hit till someone ...
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