Joe DiMaggio on Leadership

Few families, save maybe the Molina’s, have ever turned out as many baseball players  as the DiMaggio’s. What was the family secret? How could 3 out of 5 sons be so good that they make it to the major leagues when millions of families have tried and failed to have at least one boy make it to “the show?” The answer could be leadership.

The Leadership of Joe DiMaggio

Tom was the eldest but rumored to be the best ball player of the DiMaggio brothers. In fact, he was offered a chance to play for the local minor league team, the Seals. But without a guaranteed paycheck, the family would suffer from the loss of another good, hard working fisherman. Tom turned down the offer so he could work and provide for the family, ultimately his income was enough so that his younger brothers Vince, Joseph, and Dominic could afford too chase their dreams.

But even with the opportunity, how could 3 brothers, maybe even 4 if Tom had the chance, make it to the big leagues? Leadership. In studying the family I found these three traits to run through all of them; leadership, hard work, and self sacrifice.

See for your self in these quotation by the most popular and successful of the brothers, “Joltin” Joe DiMaggio.

 “A ball player has to be kept hungry to become a big leaguer. That’s why no boy from a rich family has ever made the big leagues.”

Talk about having the hunger to reach the top.  You have to be passionate to be a good leader.  How passionate are you about reaching the “big leagues” of your dreams?

“A person always doing his or her best becomes a natural leader, just by example.”

Joe understood that hard work and sacrifice were key to achieving the goals he had for his life.  But with it comes leadership. He hones in on the ‘golden rule’ of leadership, leading by example.

“I think there are some players born to play ball.”

God given talent. Just like the DiMaggio brothers, some people are born to lead. But combining this leadership quote with the others on this page, it is easy to see talent is wasted without hard work and sacrifice.

Now for my personal favorite quote by “The Yankee Clipper:”

The context of this quote is what really blows me away about the character of Joe DiMaggio. The Yankees had locked up the pennant and were headed to the post season. But first they had to finish the season. It didn’t matter if the Yankees lost the rest of the games all season, all they cared about was getting their players a few at bats to keep them fresh. That didn’t sit well with Joe.

He was at the plate just getting his “at bats” when he lined one into the outfield.  He broke out of the box almost the same instance the crack of the bat filled the hallowed halls of Yankee stadium. The fans lept to their feet! Joe was still in his prime and was one of the fastest men in all of baseball. The ball dropped in just over the outfielder’s head. With the pennet a sure thing, Joe could have jogged to first, but instead he showed the crowd how he’d earned his famous nickname Joltin Joe.

He took a wide turn around first base, his cleats flinging dirt behind him. His helmet hung on for dear life as Joe flew down the second base line. The outfielder retrieved the ball and, looking up, was surprised to see Joe digging for two. He reared back and delivered a perfect fast ball straight to the second baseman. Joe’s feet left the ground, his whole body flying through the air like superman, he crashed to the ground in a swirl of dust just as the ball reached the base. He glanced up to find the umpire with his hands held out high. SAFE!

Joe stood up and dusted off his pants. It was this play that prompted the question as to why he was playing so hard when he didn’t have to. He responded with the quote below.

“There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first time. I owe him my best.”

Wow what a testament to Joe’s work ethic! See my post Who’s Watching You? Are you playing your guts out for the one kid who may be seeing you for the first time? Do you feel that you owe it to him to do your best?

Joe DiMaggio did.  Maybe this is why Joe DiMaggio is “Joe DiMaggio” and not some long forgotten fisherman from San Francisco.  There he was, a world champion, an all star, destined for the hall of fame, the most popular and talented ball player of his time and he felt that he owed it to a lowly kid who may have been seeing him the first time!

This story of Joe and his brothers blows me away, who’s your favorite sports hero and why?




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