Nestled in the heart of Chicago’s Little Italy is the Piazza DiMaggio. The plaza is a shrine to Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio. As you can see the centerpiece of the plaza is a statue of Joe finishing his beautiful swing. Why on earth is this shrine located in Chicago you may ask. DiMaggio was born in California, died in Florida, and was buried in California. He spent his entire playing career in New York playing for the Yankees. The closest he came to playing in Chicago was when the Cubs turned down a no risk tryout when Joe was a San Fransisco Seal. Joe really has no ties to Chicago. He did however have ties to the people that lived in and around Taylor Street. I found this gem thanks to the Sporting News book “Roadside Baseball.” It is a great book that shows you some cool baseball sites in each state.
What makes this gem in ‘Little Italy’ such a great place for the statue and piazza is the fact that it is across the street from the Italian-American Hall of Fame. Is this portion of Chicago Joe meant a lot to the immigrant community. He played the game the way that it should be played, and was a great role model for all of those that would come after him. The statue was dedicated in 1991 on the 50th anniversary of his 56 game hitting streak. That is the capstone on a great career. The plaza itself was dedicated in 1999. On the piazza dedication plaque they have a great quote on what Joe meant to the community. It reads: “No son of an Italian immigrant lived a greater American dream than Joe DiMaggio, flawless ballplayer, true gentleman, and heroic Italian-American.” This plaza is not hard to find. It is located on Taylor street just across from the Italian-American Hall of Fame. The picture to the right shows the piazza as it looks from Taylor Street. If you happen to be in Chicago for a ball game or anything else this is a quick stop that reminds you of what baseball used to mean to the country. Players did not only play for themselves or their teams, but they played for their fellow countrymen.