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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

DiMaggio Dies at 84 Of Cancer




HOLLYWOOD, Florida -- Joe DiMaggio, the elegant Yankee Clipper whose 56-game hitting streak endures as one of the most remarkable records in baseball or any sport, died Monday, his lawyer said. He was 84.


DiMaggio, who underwent lung cancer surgery in October and battled a series of complications for weeks afterward, died at his home shortly after midnight, said Morris Engelberg, DiMaggio's longtime friend and attorney.


At his bedside were his brother Dominick, two grandchildren and Joe Nacchio, his friend for 59 years, and Engelberg.


DiMaggio's body will be flown to California for burial in his hometown of San Francisco, Engelberg said.


"DiMaggio, the consummate gentleman on and off the field, fought his illness as hard as he played the game of baseball and with the same dignity, style and grace with which he lived his life," said Engelberg, DiMaggio's neighbor.


When DiMaggio left the hospital Jan. 19, he was invited by New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner to throw out the ceremonial first ball at the Yankees' home opener April 9. After DiMaggio came home from the hospital, a sign was placed on his bed saying "April 9 Yankee Stadium or Bust."


The New York Yankees' center fielder roamed the base paths for 13 years through 1951, missing three seasons to serve in World War II. During that time he played for 10 pennant winners and nine World Series champions, batted .325 and hit 361 home runs.


But more than anything it was The Streak, during the magical summer of 1941, that riveted a country fresh from the Depression and elevated him from baseball star to national celebrity.


He ascended even higher atop the rank of popular culture in 1954 when he married Marilyn Monroe, a storybook marriage that failed quickly and left him brokenhearted.


He batted .325 lifetime, with 361 home runs, won three American League Most Valuable Player awards, appeared in 11 All-Star games and entered the Hall of Fame in 1955. He played for 10 pennant winners and nine World Series champions. For half a century, he was introduced as "the greatest living player."


A handsome man of quiet strength f unpretentious, proud and intensely private f DiMaggio embodied the kind of hero parents wanted their sons to emulate. He had class, on and off the field.


In more recent years, he devoted himself to his grandchildren and four great-grandchildren and to raising money for the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Hollywood, Florida.


No ballplayer ever heard more cheers than DiMaggio did during The Streak. In city after city, he kept The Streak alive, getting at least one hit in every game from May 15 until July 17 in Cleveland f 56 games. No one has come close since.


During an appearance in 1991, commemorating the 50th anniversary of The Streak, DiMaggio expressed surprise it was still a record.


"There are a lot of great ballplayers," he said. "One day, someone's going to come along and break it. But I've been saying that for 50 years."


DiMaggio arrived in New York in May 1936, at age 21. He introduced himself to Yankees fans with two singles and a triple in his first game, and never slowed until retirement.