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New York Yankees Hats Off All-Star Moment #10

For the next ten days, Travis and I will be counting down the Yankees' top 10 All-Star moments, sponsored by Head & Shoulders. Yep, they're calling it "Hats Off." I'm up first.

1949 was an incredible year.

It was the first year that African American players made the All-Star team, and the general consensus was that Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe would finally give the National League the firepower to break its 3 year losing streak.

You know how much I adore Joe Dimaggio. So let me say a few words: he was a 5 tool player before they coined the phrase, regarded during his career as the best centerfielder ever; he's the only player to make the All-Star team every season of his career; and while he usually played, he was almost never exceptional. In Joe D.'s career, he hit only .225/.279/.350 during the All-Star Game.

But 1949 was a different year. Joe D signed the first $100,000 contract in league history, only to sit out the first half of the season with a heel injury. When he returned, he put the Yankees on his back, dueling Ted Williams and the Red Sox until the final games of the season (a 2 game set in Boston that started with the Red Sox up a game). The half season performance crystallized the legend of "the great Dimaggio" that Ernest Hemingway would employ in The Old Man and the Sea.

Dimaggio had no business playing in the 1949 All-Star Game at Ebbets Field. He didn't play until just over 2 weeks before the game. The fans didn't vote him in, but Indians player-manager Lou Boudreau added Joltin' Joe to the roster. Then, when Tommy Henrich couldn't start, it was Dimaggio who replaced him.

The Jolter responded.

With two outs in the first and Hall of Famer George Kell on second (thanks to the first of several NL errors), Joe D pulled a single to left to put the AL up 1-0 and start a slugfest. The AL lost and retook the lead, and Dimaggio strode to the plate in the 6th with runners on first and third. He did what Ted Williams could not and clubbed a bases clearing double into the left-center gap.

This lead would stand up, thanks to the relief work of Yankee ace Vic Raschi. But the day belonged to the great Dimaggio.