Goldman: Joe DiMaggio’s heel and the dying of the light

From SABR member Steven Goldman at VICE Sports on March 3, 2016:

This week in 1949, New York Yankees center fielder Joe DiMaggio was forced to leave training camp to undergo treatment for bone spurs in his right heel, a painful injury for which he’d had surgery the previous November. Months later, the three-time Most Valuable Player’s foot still hadn’t recovered and rumors circulated that he would soon be forced into retirement. Instead, he came on when his team needed him most, saving the season with one of the great series of his career.

And that there is the setup for a fun baseball story, but one that probably pops a bit more for those readers who were personally hanging on the outcome of the 1949 American League pennant race. In 2016, there are probably slightly more Javan rhinos in the world than there are members of that group. It could have greater resonance, though, because for some reason Joe DiMaggio was a guy who kept having episodes like that, something that’s pretty unusual. We can debate the reason why he did, whether it was character or coincidence, but what seems inarguable is that people—men or women, athletes or not—who rise to the occasion in quite the same way are strikingly rare. Yet, even if we can recognize and respect DiMaggio for providing the 1940s with a quality we don’t have now, he still won’t fully satisfy our need to observe greatness because those moments aren’t ours. They can’t be.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: March 7, 2016. Last Updated: March 7, 2016.