Seventy-five years ago, American’s from all walks of life where obsessed with four words… “Did he get one?” The “who” and the “what” were implicit as all eyes were squarely on Joe DiMaggio and his consecutive game hit streak. From a collector’s standpoint, the idea of owning a DiMaggio bat and or uniform from this time frame is as likely as a player stringing together fifty-seven consecutive games with a base hit. But like the Great Yankee Clipper, I urge you to remain strong of heart and purpose in your quest for artifacts related to The Streak. Have you thought about sheet music?
The MEARS Museum recently added a copy of the sheet music for the period hit (no pun intended) Joltin Joe DiMaggio. If you’re not familiar with the song, give it a quick listen:
Getting back to the sheet music, the cover graphics are wonderful, the piece requires minimal display space, and it is still affordable, provided you can find one (getting tougher all the time). It also serves as wonderful ticket back in time, to a time when pre-teen boys still fought with their parents about having to take piano or music lessons. It was also a time when radio and nightclub band leaders reigned supreme. Last but not least, the story behind the song is equally interesting.
The lyrics for “Joltin Joe DiMaggio” were originally written on a napkin in a New York hotel on the evening of July 2, 1941 by Allan Courtney. Shortly thereafter, Courtney, the New York radio announcer, got together with an orchestra leader by the name of Les Brown, and together, they produced one of the most recognizable and beloved tunes in American history, Joltin Joe DiMaggio. Ever the one to make sure he got paid, DiMaggio’s contractual cut called for:
-3 cents per copy of all sheet music sold in the US and Canada.
-1 cent per orchestration
-1/3 of the song writer’s sale for all mechanical reproductions and picture use.
While I have no idea how much DiMaggio made from this effort, it is interesting to note that Hollywood Today Section of the November 4th, 1941 edition of the Taylor Daily Press (Taylor, TX) noted that “Joe DiMaggio, the diamond flyhawk, will make more from the royalties on the OKEH disc “Joltin Joe DiMaggio” than his cut of the World Series swag.” For the record, the winner’s share of the 1941 World Series purse (Yankees vs Dodgers) was $5,943.31. Not bad money considering the financial jolt Joe was about to take in 1943 when the Army was paying newly enlisted privates about $50 a month.
If you are looking to build a theme display around “The Streak” and don’t have money to burn, consider acquiring items like these along with the sheet music:
– A period high quality Joe DiMaggio Hillerich & Bradsby 125 retail bat
– A top of line Ken Keltner Rawlings split finger glove (where “The Streak” died)
– Scorecards and or tickets from streak games (15 May – 17 July)
– Period newspapers documenting the event over time
– Period wire photographs.
-1941 DiMaggio-Keller Double Play Card (#63, #64).
I point all of this out because one of the tenants of the MEARS Museum Mission Statement is to Stimulate interest in the hobby by showcasing memorabilia in ways that inspires others to collect what they enjoy and enjoy what they collect. To that end, I am looking forward to my upcoming trip to Milwaukee to work on our themed display commemorating this event. If you’re in the Milwaukee area this summer, considering contacting Troy to see what’s of interest and currently on display. He’ll be glad to have you and I think you’ll be glad you stopped by.