History has been kinder to Joe and Dom, but it was oldest brother Vince DiMaggio that first experienced life as a professional ballplayer. A talented but unremarkable centerfielder, DiMaggio landed in Philadelphia by way of a 1945 trade. His initial season as a Phillie was productive, batting .257 with 19 home runs, but he would be traded to the New York Giants in May of 1946, after only six games with the Phillies. Retiring after the season, DiMaggio would opt for a quieter life than his brother Joe, taking work as a salesman and studying the Bible. The DiMaggios would rarely speak until making amends in 1986, shortly before Vince’s passing.
The 1946 season is known as the first year of the “post-war baseball boom”. With World War II ending in September of the previous year, teams found themselves welcoming back players from service. DiMaggio was one of the many veterans on the 1946 Phillies, having built ships for the Navy years earlier. During Spring Training, this photo was staged, with manager Ben Chapman joking that he communicated with the servicemen via walkie-talkie.
Clockwise from left: Vince DiMaggio, Ben Chapman, outfielder Ron Northey and infielder Frank McCormick
Photo: Miami Beach News Bureau