The Swing
January 30, 2014

Joe DiMaggio owned the batter’s box.

Always had, ever since playing North Beach sandlot ball in the 1930s.

He was almost regal in stance.

Back foot gnawing a hole from which to push off, legs spread wide apart, DiMaggio always held his bat a few inches off his shoulder and back.

As a pitcher went into his motion, Joe was stock still, back leg bent slightly.

Batters have about a half-second to calculate whether or not to swing at a pitch; .41 seconds if Bob Feller is pitching.

Head still, arms taut, hands squeezing the bat just so (Joe never choked up on the stick)…As the ball approached, the ballet would begin.

First a slight stride, maybe two, three inches with his left foot. A movement of the arms and wrists would fluidly bring the bat with them.

As the lumber cut through the air, Joe looking like a hawk as it pounced on its prey, the crack of the bat would provide a clue to the results.

Whether a hit, pop-up or ground out, the swing always looked the same.

Graceful, dynamic, Olympian.

“I have always taken that stance since I have been playing ball,” DiMaggio says in the book 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports.

“Nobody ever told me to do it that way. It just seemed the natural thing to do.”