Thursday, February 22, 2024

Virtual Book Tour & Giveaway: Tales of the Yankee Clipper (Yankees Icons Trilogy, #3) by Jonathan Weeks

Jonathan Weeks

Non-Fiction / Sports Biography
Publisher: Lyons Press
Publication Date: February 6, 2024
Page count: 234 pages



There has probably never been a professional baseball player more of a puzzle than Joe DiMaggio. DiMaggio had a talent for keeping his emotions suppressed and his innermost thoughts to himself. Few could say that they really knew him. And even the ones who did found him to be unpredictable. He was a walking contradiction. He was quiet, but not necessarily shy. He could be both gracious and abrupt, approachable or aloof depending on the situation. Although he came across as humble, he had a tremendous sense of entitlement. He was complex, secretive, inscrutable. There were many layers to the man who came to be affectionately known as the “Yankee Clipper.” DiMaggio always felt that his actions on the field should do the talking for him. And for the most part, they did. To many, DiMaggio personified elegance, style, and grace. An impeccable dresser, he was married to two glamorous actresses. On the field, he glided almost effortlessly, never having to dive for a ball and rarely (if ever) making a mistake on the basepaths. He became the living embodiment of the American dream and a symbol of the country’s so-called “greatest generation.” But as time marched on, DiMaggio grew increasingly distrustful of the people around him. It was understandable—inevitable even. The third book in Jonathan Week’s Yankees Trilogy contains an abundance of anecdotes, statistics, and other little known facts about the Yankee Clipper.




DiMaggio suffered a major scare during his 56-game hitting streak. On June 29, 1941, the Yankees traveled to Washington for a double-header against the Nationals (often referred to as the Senators). Joe had hit in 40 straight games and was poised to break the modern record set by George Sisler in 1922. His double in the opener tied Sisler’s mark. In the first inning of the evening game, Tommy Henrich was on his way to the plate when he heard DiMaggio shouting across the diamond. Joe couldn’t locate his favorite bat and wondered if Henrich had done something with it.
Joe was very attached to that particular piece of lumber, naming it “Betsy Ann.” He had been using it throughout the streak and worried that he might fall into a slump without it. A frantic search turned up nothing. The bat was gone. Forced to hit without “Betsy Ann,” DiMaggio flied out. Two innings later, he switched bats and lined out to short. In the seventh inning, Henrich gave Joe his own bat to use. Averting disaster, The Yankee Clipper lined a clean single to left field, claiming Sisler’s record for himself. Still, the loss of his favorite bat vexed him.
“Of course the guy had to pick out the best one,” Joe told reporters after the game. “I had three of my bats on the ground in front of the dugout but he got the one I wouldn’t take money for...the bat was just right for me. I liked the feel of it. I hate to lose it.” 
About a week later, “Betsy Ann” was delivered by courier to the Yankee clubhouse in a plain brown package. Behind the scenes, one of Joe’s assistants—a wise-guy named Jimmy “Peanuts” Ceres—had spent five days looking for the bat. As it turned out, the thief had ties to the Newark underworld (which was Jimmy’s domain) and also happened to be a braggart. When the thief’s identity was revealed, Jimmy paid the guy a visit with one of his associates. Specific details of how they persuaded the man to return Joe’s prized bat have never been disclosed.


Today we welcome author Jonathan Weeks with additional comments regarding the subjects of his latest book, Tales of the Yankee Clipper.

Statistics don’t always paint a full picture when it comes to baseball. In comparison to the other center fielders currently in the Hall of Fame, Joe DiMaggio ranks sixth in homers, fifth in RBIs, and fourth in batting average. But those rankings could have been much higher. In addition to the three prime seasons he sacrificed to military duty during World War II, “Joltin’ Joe” missed more than 150 games on account of injuries. In order to properly gauge how talented he really was, one needs only to read what his Hall of Fame contemporaries had to say about him.
WHITEY FORD: “Growing up in Astoria, Queens, I was always a Yankee fan and the main reason was Joe DiMaggio. I idolized him. When I joined the team [in 1951], DiMaggio was hitting about .235, but he ended up hitting .301 for the season, so he must have batted around .370 in the time I was there. He was still so graceful in the field and such a good hitter it made me realize how great he must have been in his prime.”
MONTE IRVIN: “I came up as an outfielder and I wanted to learn how to play center field. So I went to Yankee Stadium and watched Joe. When a ball is hit straight over your head, what is the first move you make? I watched Joe. If I got in a slump at bat, I watched Joe.”
PHIL RIZZUTO: “[When] things aren’t going so good with the club and you can’t buy a win for love or money and you feel low, you look up and see [DiMaggio] standing there. So you feel everything is ok...He just makes the rest of the club feel that they’re Yankees. He’s as much the inspiration for the club as the uniform.”
TED WILLIAMS: “Joe DiMaggio was the greatest all-around player I ever saw. His career cannot be summed up in numbers and awards. It might sound corny, but he had a profound and lasting impact on the country.”
RED RUFFING: “You saw him standing out there and you knew you had a pretty darn good chance to win the baseball game.”
STAN MUSIAL: “There was never a day when I was as good as Joe DiMaggio at his best. Joe was the best—the VERY best I ever saw.”
HANK GREENBERG: “Name a better right-handed hitter, or a better thrower, or a better fielder, or a better base runner. Did you ever see him slide when he hooked the bag with his toe? Absolutely perfect.”
RED SCHOENDIENST: “He was a solid ballplayer in every way. I never saw him make a mistake. There was a smooth way he had of going about everything.”

Thanks to Jonathan for this insight!


Jonathan Weeks has written several sports biographies and two novels, one of which was a posthumous collaboration with his father. He grew up in the Capital District region of New York State and currently works in the mental health field.


Jonathan Weeks will award a randomly drawn winner a $25 Amazon/BN gift card.


Jonathan Weeks said...

Good Morning--And thanks for having me as a guest! There are only two days left to enter to win the $25 Amazon gift card I'm giving away, so don't forget to sign up. I welcome questions and comments from readers so feel free to fire away.

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting today!

Marcy Meyer said...

I love baseball, so I would enjoy this book. Thanks for sharing.

Jonathan Weeks said...

Marcy: Thanks for the kind words. And thanks for following my tour!

Karen said...

Jonathan - thanks so much for your guest post and for dropping by the blog today. All the excerpts and teasers I've seen from the book are so interesting and your writing really conveys your stories.

Jonathan Weeks said...

Karen: thanks so much for the encouraging words. Very much appreciated.

Sherry said...

Sounds like a really interesting story.

Kim said...

Happy Friday Eve.