A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
The DiMaggios: Three Brothers, Their Passion for Baseball, Their Pursuit of the American Dream by Tom Clavin is a family epic, the story a family come to America. It starts with Sicilian fisherman Giuseppe DiMaggio arriving in California in 1898. He later brought his wife Rosalie and one child born in Sicily to Martinez, a village northeast of San Francisco. From there they started a large family and eventually moved into San Francisco, where to Giuseppe’s initial horror, three sons became baseball players. Little did the father know that his sons’ success at sports would bring the family a fortune and fame, as well as heartbreak.
As the book jacket signals, The DiMaggios is about the three sons Vince, Joe, and Dominic, their baseball careers, and their complicated relationships. It also includes a surprisingly full portrait of Red Sox outfielder Ted Williams, who like the brothers began his career in the highly competitive Pacific Coast League. Williams becomes Joe’s greatest baseball rival while becoming Dominic’s close brotherly friend. The fifth focus in the book is on actress Marilyn Monroe and her short marriage to Joe.
Aimed primarily at sports readers, the book includes descriptions of important games, accounts of seasons, and statistics. That all fades away in the latter chapters as the brothers deal with their lives after baseball and the needs of the DiMaggio family. Here the author has unpleasant myths to dispel about Joe, and he does effectively. Still, many readers will form strong opinions about the conduct of the brothers. The DiMaggios should be considered for book discussions that enjoy discussing characters. – Review by Rick