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Joe DiMaggio’s European Diary Found; Sports Icon a Skinflint in (At Least) Five Currencies

Henry Kissenger and Joe DiMaggio

Remembrance of Expenses Past: Joe DiMaggio in Berlin with Henry Kissinger look-alike Ernst Bonnhoffer. “For a baseball player, Herr DiMaggio had surprisingly short arms. Or very deep pockets. At one point we waited five minutes for him to pull several deutschemarks from his trousers just to pay for a round of beer.”

NEW YORK, NY (Sportsman’s Daily Wire Service) –Steiner Sports, a company that trades in sports memorabilia, is selling 29 binders containing some 2,400 mind-numbing diary pages penned by one of our most storied sports legends, Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio. The pages recount his daily activities from 1982 to 1993. The following sample captures Joe D’s signature style and less than Proustian attention to every small, sub-cosmic detail: “Monday, December 12, 1983. Up at 7 a.m. Had breakfast in coffee shop at 8 a.m.” At the bottom of each entry he lists his expenses for the day, including taxi fares, dining tabs and dry cleaning bills.

Since donning the pinstripes, DiMaggio’s quiet dignity and easy physical grace suggested an unfathomable mystique, elevating him beyond mere sports figure into the realm of American icon. But taken in full, the 2,400 pages of shockingly inane detail reveal a man entirely bereft of an inner life – the proverbial Sphinx without a riddle. Several days after the 29 binders were put up for sale, a 30th binder was found wherein DiMaggio documents his thoughts and impressions during a European tour taken in the summer of 1985. Here are several representative entries.

London, England
May 2

Landed at Heathrow, took taxi to hotel. Cabbies are the same everywhere you go – they can’t stop talking. This one was going on and on about some cricket match. I wanted to tell him to shut up. But then I realized it gave me a perfectly good excuse to stiff him on the tip.

I got settled in my room then took a stroll. Went to a little fish and chips shop. They serve it to you in a rolled up newspaper. I spent five minutes looking for yesterday’s box scores. I had to settle for yesterday’s rugby results.

Taxi, lunch, dinner, International edition of the NY Post: £300

Cannes, France
May 16

Flew in for meeting with Mr. Coffee people and their European distributors. Lots of free coffee, croissants and scones. Stuffed a bunch of scones in my pockets. Held me over until dinner.

Not a lot of baseball fans here. I was introduced as Mr. Marilyn Monroe. Embarrassing, but Mr. Coffee pays the rent, so I went along with it. Anyway, at my age, it’s a heck of a lot easier batting my eyelashes than batting around baseballs. Some guy from Finland asked what it was like having sex with Marilyn Monroe. I kicked him in the nuts and just kept walking.

Unfortunately there was a film festival going on. Cameras and people everywhere. At one point I was called over to a table with a couple of Italians – Federico and Michelangelo (Antonioni) -- and some very lovely women. Said they were directors showing their latest films. They confused me with some American producer and ordered drinks. I was happy to get out of there and get back to my hotel. I pocketed several bottles of shampoo and swiped some towels. Figure they make for cheap gifts when I get back home.

Taxi, lunch, sun screen: 150 francs.

Rome, Italy
May 20

Met the Pope. Nice fella. Firm handshake. And a good dresser. I asked him for the number of his tailor. Would have made a helluva manager. Or GM. I walked away thinking, heck, I can play for this guy.

Took in the Coliseum. A little run-down, but what do you expect after a couple thousand years, taking a beating from the weather and all those pigeons. Would have loved playing there. Looks like a hitter’s park. Short right field porch. Like Fenway.

Guided tour, taxi, lunch, dinner: 750 lira.

Berlin, Germany
May 24

Rented a Volkswagon. They wanted a fortune for a Mercedes. Rode the Autobahn from Stuttgart to Frankfurt. Went about 65 mph as cars whizzed by. A little scary. They must have been going easily 120-140 mph. Never seen anything like it. But gas over here can put a hole in your pocket faster than a Bob Feller heater. Figured I’d save a pile of deutschemarks keeping under the speed limit.

Rental, gas, lunch, postcards: 175 deutschemarks.

New York, NY
May 28

Landed at Kennedy. The driver took me to my hotel. I ordered a ham sandwich and a Coke. Took taxi to autograph signing. Mistakenly paid driver in left over deutschemarks. I apologized for the mistake and asked if he’d take lira instead.

Good to be back home.

Taxi, dry cleaners, lunch: 150 deutschemarks, 75 lira, £75, 20 francs.

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