Three Italian-American ballplayers from North Beach in San Francisco.
Crosetti and Lazzeri played against each other in the old Pacific Coast League – and had been teammates for several years in the Big Apple before DiMaggio entered their pin-striped world with an explosion – a rookie season for the ages.
The 21-year-old kid was called up on May 3, 1936. New York fans had heard about this guy, a right-handed power hitter who glided through the outfield like a gazelle bounding over the plains.
But this was New York. The Big Leagues. When DiMaggio arrived, the Yankee faithful collectively stared at the curiosity.
There was that 61-game hitting streak that DiMaggio had as a 19-year-old. Some fans dismissed that achievement, however, because it occurred in the minors. Oh, and what about that .398 batting average in the PCL?
“Let’s see how he does against major-league pitching,” Yankees manager Joe McCarthy said two days before his new outfielder arrived.
When DiMaggio stepped to the plate for the first time in the first inning against the horrible St. Louis Browns, Crosetti was on second. Past accomplishments meant nothing now. On this Sunday, DiMaggio was batting third – in front of legends Lou Gehrig and Bill Dickey. The pressure was on.
First pitch from Browns hurler Jack Knott: “Stttteeeerike!”
The second pitch to DiMaggio found a home safely in left field. Crosetti scored, the crowd of more than 25,000 at Yankee Stadium erupted, and so began the Hall of Fame career of Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio.
He’d go 3-for-6 in the 14-5 blowout. He scored three times and drove in Crosetti during that four-run first.
When the dust settled in yet another World Championship season, DiMaggio had hit .325 with 206 hits, 132 runs scored, 125 RBI.
On May 20, 1941, DiMaggio went 1-for-5. A six-game hitting streak. Still, nobody had in mind that Joe was on a magical journey.
Right now, all fans cared about was this 10-9 victory, getting New York back to .500.