Excerpt from Joe DiMaggio by Richard Ben Cramer, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Joe DiMaggio

The Hero's Life

by Richard Ben Cramer

Joe DiMaggio
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Oct 2000, 560 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2001, 560 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Except today, with that bat in his hands, at Piggy on a Bounce. Frank hit for, musta been, forty-five minutes straight! It was like magic, like he could hit any pitch, any way, anywhere he chose. He could see the ball just sittin' there for him -- then he'd cream it. It was like he imagined Joe always felt....Jesus -- Joe!

Frank had forgotten about Joe sitting there. Frank turned around now. But Joe was gone.


That was the year they'd gotten so close. Frank and Joe had always been friends, but since that past September, they'd spent just about every day together. What happened was, they got to Galileo High School, and that's where their string ran out.

They were hopeless from the day they walked in the door. They'd sit in class, and it was like the rest of the kids had grown up in some other country. "Who knows this?" the teacher would say, and everybody else would stand up, waving their hands with the answer. Joe would look at Frank, Frank would look back at Joe: What the hell's going on here?

They'd never taken a book home. But they'd always got through with passing grades -- they made no trouble. The only thing they cared about was sports. But at Galileo, they didn't even get into gym class: they got put into ROTC, the fuckin' army class! As if Joe was gonna march around with a stick on his shoulder, like a stronzo. Forget it!

And then, Italian class! The teacher was Mr. Zuberti, a stuck-up Florentine or Genoese -- from up North somewhere, where they thought Sicilians were scum. He'd pick 'em out. Conjugate this verb! (What the hell's a verb?)...One morning, Zuberti threw Joe out of class. Joe didn't say a word. Just stood at his desk and walked out, while everybody stared at him. His face was burning red. Joe heard the giggles behind him, as Zuberti sang a little song, in Italian, to Frank: "Oh, YOU'LL be the next to go..."

And that was the end. Later that day, in Mrs. Cullen's English class, Joe was sitting next to Tony Santora, and he muttered: "I won't be here this afternoon."

"Why not, Joe?"

"My father comes in with the boat about one. If I don't help clean up, I don't eat tonight."

Of course, that was bullshit. Joe missed most days at Fisherman's Wharf. But this much was true: he didn't come back to school -- that day, the next day, or any day thereafter. Frank started playing hooky, too.

They had the same routine. They'd get up in the morning, get ready for school. They'd have some bread, milk with a little coffee, walk out the door and turn down the sidewalk toward Galileo High...then they'd wander off to the park.

They'd hang around Marina Park all morning, watching the older guys with their "tops" -- a monte game, where the aces and deuces show up, and you bet against the come. The older guys were always trying to take some young sucker for a buck or two. Joe and Frank would take lunch along, or figure out some way to eat. They could never go near the Wharf: someone would see. The playground was out: they'd be spotted for sure. Sometimes, they'd spend a nickel for the ferry and ride all the way across the Bay -- mostly in silence. They were just killing time, like a lot of guys. In that winter, the turn of the 1930s, a couple of young men with time on their hands was nothing to draw a stare. One day, outside the Simmons Bedding plant at Bay and Powell, Frank counted fifty men on the corner. Nobody had anywhere to go.

About three o'clock, Joe would have to check in at home. That was the rule in his family, and Joe obeyed rules. He'd bang the door like he was coming home from school, say hello, make sure no one knew anything. Frank had no one to check in with at home. He'd go to the playground, to see if he could get into a game for a while, before they had to go sell papers.

Copyright © 2000 by Richard Ben Cramer

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Here I Am
    Here I Am
    by Jonathan Safran Foer
    With almost all the accoutrements of upper middle-class suburban life, Julia and Jacob Bloch fit the...
  • Book Jacket: Harmony
    Harmony
    by Carolyn Parkhurst
    In previous novels such as The Dogs of Babel and Lost and Found, Carolyn Parkhurst has shown herself...
  • Book Jacket: Commonwealth
    Commonwealth
    by Ann Patchett
    Opening Ann Patchett's novel Commonwealth about two semi-functional mid-late 20th Century ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Darling Days
    by iO Tillett Wright

    A devastatingly powerful memoir of one young woman's extraordinary coming of age.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Tea Planter's Wife
    by Dinah Jefferies

    An utterly engrossing, compulsive page-turner set in 1920s Ceylon.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Under the Udala Trees
by Chinelo Okparanta

Raw, emotionally intelligent and unflinchingly honest--a triumph.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Blood at the Root

Blood at the Root

"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D C Y C Before T A H

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.