Joe DiMaggio, Game 55: DiMaggiomania and the Two Garbos

JoeDiMaggio.comGuest ColumnistJuly 17, 2011

Joe DiMaggio, 1941
Joe DiMaggio, 1941

Game 55: July 15, 1941

Actress Greta Garbo made only 27 motion pictures. The Swedish siren, like so many other movie stars—and like Joe DiMaggio in the summer of 1941—was hounded by the public, disturbed by the paparazzi wherever she went.

In Grand Hotel in the 1930s, the great actress predicted her future when she had said “I want to be let alone.”

Garbo had a solution. In 1941, she retired from films and lived out her life as a recluse.

There was no such outlet for the Yankee Clipper. People depended on him. He was the heartbeat on a baseball team that drove the major leagues. The Streak was bubbling over and the entertainment and anticipation it brought to every humdrum day was uplifting.

DiMaggio’s exploits on the playing field were a diversion from focus on the war in Europe.

On July 15, 1941, a sizzling Tuesday in Chicago, word would come from the Second City that DiMaggio had just doubled and singled in a 5-4 win over Chicago. The Streak was at 55.

The Yankees were five games up on the second-place Indians and heading for Cleveland.

It would later be discovered that a Spaniard named Juan Garcia—also known as Garbo by the Allies—would send his first misdirecting communiqué as a double agent at almost the very moment DiMaggio was standing at second in the third inning of his team’s win on the July 1941 day.

Garbo—the spy—would go on to build an imaginary “ring” that sent the Nazis in a tailspin as the war effort in Europe escalated.

Adolf Hitler was so taken with the information Garbo provided—all of which, for the Germans, was misleading—that Der Führer awarded Garcia the Iron Cross for his “intelligence.”

Garbo’s greatest achievement came in 1944. He convinced Hitler that the Allied Normandy landing was a “diversionary maneuver designed to draw off enemy reserves in order to make a decisive attack in another place.”

Hitler bought it, and D-Day changed the course of history.

As part of the operation, British and American troops were dropped into France behind enemy lines. To avoid confusion in the night, when soldiers approached each other, they used a code name to identify themselves. Something familiar.

Throughout the farmlands of Normandy, exchanges like the following were heard:

“Halt! What’s the password?”

You were a “friendly” if you replied, “Joe DiMaggio!” is the official and authorized website of Joe DiMaggio. During the 70th anniversary of DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, it is publishing “Reliving Joe DiMaggio’s Streak,” which follows the daily progress of Joltin' Joe in 1941. Series Archive