When Joe DiMaggio Was a Coach for the A’s

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It’s difficult to imagine Joe DiMaggio in any uniform other than the classic pinstripes of the Yankees. But for several years in the 1960s after his playing career. Joltin’ Joe wore the green and yellow of the A’s.

When Joe DiMaggio retired at the relatively young age of 36 after the 1951 season he was a legend. In 13 seasons, DiMaggio won three Most Valuable Player awards, and finished in the top three for that honor six times.

Most importantly for baseball fans in the Bronx, DiMaggio led the New York Yankees to ten pennants and nine World Series titles. He was famous for his 56-game hitting streak in 1941, which captured the attention of Americans, sports fand and non-sports fans alike.

DiMaggio accepted an invitation from A’s owner Charles Finley to join the Oakland A’s organization in 1968. The job was as “executive vice-president and special advisor.” And for two years, Joe satisfied that contract. Briefly, he even donned the Kelly green and gold of the A’s as a member of the coaching staff in 1968.

“I have become attached to these kids,” DiMaggio said. “I have never been around a group so eager to learn.”

And so, DiMaggio was there in the A’s dugout with young players like Reggie Jackson, Sal Bando, and Rick Monday. His short time in uniform was not forgotten, even if it was a strange uniform.

“I learned a lot just watching Joe,” Reggie Jackson said years later. “He was a professional, and I wanted to be the same way.”

DiMaggio wore a Yankee cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, of course. But, for a brief time he wore the much more colorful garb of the Swingin’ A’s, a team poised to become champions.

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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes is the author of three books about baseball, including Ty Cobb: A Biography. He previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and Major League Baseball Advanced Media. He lives in Michigan where he writes, runs, and enjoys a good orange soda now and again.
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