Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?
March 6, 2013

“In these days of…transgressions and apologies and prime-time interviews about private sexual matters, we grieve for Joe DiMaggio and mourn the loss of his grace and dignity, his fierce sense of privacy, his fidelity to the memory of his wife and the power of his silence.”  -- Songwriter Paul Simon (1999 shortly after the passing of Joe DiMaggio)

“Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?
Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
What's that you say, Mrs. Robinson?
Joltin’ Joe has left and gone away.”

More than a fourteen years ago, Paul Simon explained that the above lyric from Mrs. Robinson was, in his words, “meant as a sincere tribute to (Joe) DiMaggio’s unpretentious heroic stature, in a time when popular culture magnifies and distorts how we perceive our heroes.”

DiMaggio was indeed in a class by himself for those who thought of him as a role model, or a “hero”.

He was considered by many people as the greatest Italian American athlete ever.

One would have to assume, with his quiet demeanor and workmanlike approach, he was not at all comfortable with the label of hero.

How could the previous generations not think of DiMaggio in terms of the heroic?

Growing up destitute and poor in San Francisco, he was the son of Sicilian immigrants, his father a fisherman who wanted Joe to follow in his footsteps.

He instead became the greatest living baseball player of his era, an athlete so talented and complete he inspired Ernest Hemingway to write in The Old Man and The Sea to “have faith in the Great DiMaggio”.

My father was born just a month after Joe DiMaggio, in 1914.
Both were Sicilian Americans.
Joe was the 8th child in a large family. My father was the 9th child.
Joe dropped out of 10th grade to pursue playing baseball.
My father never completed 10th grade.
Athletes and entertainers are not meant to be role models.

Few, if any deserve the accolades.

Take that pedestal we've put them on, and tear it down.

As far as creating the ideal image on how we should live our lives, they no longer have what it takes.

If they ever had it in the first place.

And really, isn't the pressure to be a role model for so many,  a little too much?

Our models for life should be the ones closest to us: family members, friends, people that we know who have lived their ordinary lives to the best of their ability, or maybe have overcome an extreme circumstance. When we watch those closest to us, we take away the lessons we need to enjoy life. Today's celebrity role model has almost no shot at that.

Joe DiMaggio......

...we mourn the loss of his grace and dignity,
.....his fierce sense of privacy,
.......his fidelity to the memory of his wife
.....and the power of his silence.

Athletes should not be thought of as role models.

Joe DiMaggio just did it right, anyway.

July 25, 1948. The game is held up in the 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 7th inning by kids seeking an autograph by Joe DiMaggio.