Archives of Rudolph W. Giuliani

Mayor's WINS Address
Sunday, March 14, 1999

Saying Goodbye to the Yankee Clipper
by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani

This week, New York City mourns the loss -- and celebrates the life -- of Joe DiMaggio, a Yankee legend and a wonderful human being.

DiMaggio joined the Yankees in May 1936 and very quickly he became, as one writer put it, "the class of the Yankees in times when the Yankees outclassed everybody else." He had a strong and accurate throwing arm and one of the greatest swings in baseball -- capable of both immense power and real control. DiMaggio had 361 career homeruns and just 369 career strikeouts -- that's an incredible feat.

Over his thirteen-year career, DiMaggio was a three-time MVP and eleven-time all-star. He led the Yankees to ten World Series appearances -- where they won nine of them. And of course, no one will ever forget his 56 game hitting streak in 1941 -- which will probably stand for generations as one of the most remarkable and untouchable records in baseball.

But as many people have said, DiMaggio was even better than all those records and statistics can convey. You had to see him play to believe it. He was a skilled and graceful player, but not a flashy one. He was cool and collected on the field, sticking to the fundamentals and showing everyone how exquisitely the game of baseball could be played. Despite repeated injuries and his missing three years at the prime of his career to serve in the Army Air Forces in World War II, DiMaggio never let up. He always gave his all to his team, his fans, and the game.

Whether he was playing the game or volunteering his time and money to the DiMaggio Children's Hospital after retiring from baseball, Joe DiMaggio had his priorities straight. He knew how blessed he was to be able to play the game of baseball for a living -- and to be able to play it, thanks to his talent and his hard work, better than anyone else alive. In the end, it was DiMaggio's integrity that made him so special. The City could be proud of him without reservation or hesitation. And children and adults could aspire to emulate his character. New York City will never forget the Yankee Clipper.

Finally, this week we found out that another Yankee legend, manager Joe Torre, will be taking a leave of absence from the team while he is treated for prostate cancer. The news came at a time when we were all excited to see Darryl Strawberry back with the team following part of his battle with colon cancer. Joe Torre's cancer was found in a routine screening given all members of the Yankee team in response to Darryl's illness -- and that's important to realize, because early identification, as seems to have happened in this case, is key to being able to successfully treat prostate cancer. Men over the age of 50 should have an exam every year. If you want more information on prostate cancer, you can call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345.

In addition to being the best manager in baseball, Joe Torre is a wonderful person. I know New Yorkers across the City are thinking of him and his family and praying for his swift recovery, along with the recovery of Darryl Strawberry. From Gracie Mansion, this is Mayor Rudy Giuliani.


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