From by Christian Red
This season marks the 75th anniversary of Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak — but baseball’s most revered and enduring record won’t be celebrated with a Yankee Clipper bobblehead.
The Yankees had planned to commemorate DiMaggio’s historic hitting streak by distributing DiMaggio bobbleheads to thousands of fans at a home game this season. But team officials scratched plans for a Joltin’ Joe promotion due to interference from DiMaggio’s longtime lawyer, Morris Engelberg, the Daily News has learned.
Team officials eventually abandoned plans to honor DiMaggio’s amazing hitting streak — which began on May 15, 1941, and ended two months later on July 17 — because of Engelberg’s endless demands.
The controversial Engelberg, who as trustee of the estate controls the licensing rights to the Yankee great’s likeness, denied that he had derailed plans for a DiMaggio bobblehead day at the Stadium.
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Engelberg said he only had two requests after the Yankees approached DiMaggio’s grandchildren about a day honoring Joltin’ Joe’s hitting streak: He wanted former Mayor Rudy Giuliani to throw out the first pitch and he wanted the Yankees to make a donation to the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, Fla.
“I asked for $50,000 for the hospital, $25,000 would have been fine,” Engelberg said.
Engelberg said he wanted to do the event because it would have generated new interest in DiMaggio.
A Yankee spokesman did not return requests for comment.
Bill Gallo’s cartoon honoring Joe D’s 56-game hitting streak.
Bill Gallo’s cartoon honoring Joe D’s 56-game hitting streak. (GALLO, BILL)
Engelberg said he wrote several letters to the Yankees about an event at the Stadium commemorating DiMaggio’s hitting streak but team officials did not respond.
“In the words of Joe DiMaggio, the Yankees are nothing without George Steinbrenner,” he said. “If George was still here, we’d have this event.”
Although DiMaggio’s granddaughters, Kathie Stein and Paula Hamra, apparently continue to support Engelberg as the gatekeeper of the estate, Engelberg angered many of the Yankee great’s longtime friends and teammates both before and after DiMaggio’s 1999 death.
Some members of DiMaggio’s inner circle, including brother Dom DiMaggio, said Engelberg isolated the Hall of Famer from family and friends and used their relationship to enrich himself. In his bestselling biography, “Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life,” journalist Richard Ben Cramer accused the Florida attorney of cheating DiMaggio out of several hundred thousand dollars generated by the sale of autographed baseballs and other sports memorabilia. Engelberg denied the allegations.
Joe DiMaggio makes his major-league debut with Yankees in 1936
Engelberg famously battled with Gov. George Pataki after Pataki proposed renaming the Major Deegan Expressway in the Bronx after DiMaggio.
Engelberg also went to court to stop San Francisco from renaming a North Beach park where DiMaggio played baseball with his brothers after the Yankee Clipper. Engelberg wanted the city to name San Francisco International Airport or the Bay Bridge after DiMaggio, because the park was not worthy of the baseball great’s name. Engleberg changed his mind after San Francisco renovated the park and agreed not to charge children to use its swimming pool.