Joe DiMaggio Remembered

Joe DiMaggio & Henry Kissenger
-Dr. Henry Kissinger, who presented the
Sports Legend Award to Joe DiMaggio at the
13th Annual ASA Hall of Fame awards dinner on
April 23, 1998, shares moment with the
Yankee Clipper.

Up Close,
DiMaggio Would Warm

Associated Press

When Joe DiMaggio was selected to receive the Sports Legend Award from the American Sportscasters Association last year, he asked Lou Schwartz, the group’s president, "Why me? There are greater legends in sports than me."

"I had heard that he might be tough to deal with, but he was so gracious, so humble, and a real gentleman," Schwartz said Monday, in recalling the telephone call from DiMaggio.

DiMaggio declined an appearance fee or even travel expenses, Schwartz said.

"He told me the honor of getting the award was worth more than money we could pay him."

A limousine picked up DiMaggio and two friends at his Manhattan apartment to bring him to the Marriott Marquis hotel, where the black-tie dinner was held.

It was a rainy evening in March and John Piper, a banker from Washington, was wearing a tuxedo and holding an umbrella, trying to flag a cab when the limo stopped for a red light. The window rolled down and the man was startled to see DiMaggio, who asked him, "You going to the dinner at the Marriott?"

Piper, who had never met DiMaggio, indeed was going to the dinner. But he was so flustered at seeing the Hall of Famer that he declined to get in the limo.

DiMaggio arrived at the dinner at 6:00 p.m., and enjoyed the award ceremonies until 10:30 p.m. when he departed.

© 1999 American Sportscasters Association, Inc.