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Sale of Joe's journals is a trying chapter for Dom DiMaggio

Steiner Sports Marketing's Jared Weiss is offering pages of Joe DiMaggio's journals for between $2,000 and $10,000 each. Steiner Sports Marketing's Jared Weiss is offering pages of Joe DiMaggio's journals for between $2,000 and $10,000 each. (BILL PORTER /GLOBE STAFF)

MARION - News that more of his brother's legacy was for sale stung Dom DiMaggio like a runaway fastball from Hall of Famer Bob Feller, and the Little Professor was up and swinging.

Joe DiMaggio kept track of expenses as he traveled extensively in his 60s and 70s and often flavored the pages with personal notes. A sports marketing company bought the collection of nearly 2,500 handwritten journals, penned between 1981 and 1994, and is offering the pages for between $2,000 and $10,000 each.

"I think it's disgusting," said Dom DiMaggio, 90, who batted .298 in 11 seasons with the Red Sox between 1940 and 1953, and whose Hall of Fame brother died in March 1999 at age 84. "I think Joe must be turning over in his grave to have his diaries sold to the public. He was a very private individual, and that was his affair and his business. I guess I feel it's a terrible thing to do."

In interviews over the phone and at his Marion home recently, DiMaggio lamented the sale of pieces of the Yankee Clipper's life and, possibly, his name.

Morris Engelberg, Joe DiMaggio's longtime confidant, lawyer, and the trustee of his estate, is looking to sell all licensing rights worldwide to the name Joe DiMaggio.

"That's too bad," Dom DiMaggio said. "Well, that's the way it is. What can you say? I guess he has the power to do it."

Engelberg told the Globe recently that he had sent letters detailing his proposal to Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett, former Disney chief executive Michael Eisner, Revlon billionaire Ronald Perelman, and Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz.

He added on Friday that he was in negotiations with three other parties, but declined to name them. Engelberg said the licensing rights are probably worth at least $30 million.

Engelberg said he could not effectively handle licensing of Joe's name outside the memorabilia line for the trust anymore, and added that a small portion of the proceeds would go to charities, including the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital and Xaverian High School in Brooklyn.

Dom DiMaggio, referring to an auction last year in New York City in which thousands of items that had belonged to his brother - owned and made available by Joe's two granddaughters - fetched about $4 million, said, "I don't think Joe would have liked it. I didn't particularly care for it, but there was nothing I could do about it."

The diaries detail the daily grind of Joe DiMaggio's Mr. Coffee era, and are bound in 29 black loose-leaf notebooks, each page encased in plastic. Many are chronicles of the commonplace: meals with friends, public appearances, signings at trade shows, and usually a tally of what he spent on food, activities, and tips, according to Steiner Sports Marketing, which purchased the journals this year for an undisclosed price.

Weariness and stress of constant travel, drudgery of signing autographs, and annoyances were recorded, often on airline and hotel stationery. "Plane food should be fed to pigs," jotted Joltin' Joe.

Prior to the 50th anniversary of his 56-game hitting streak, he groused in a January 1991 entry: "If I thought this would be taking place due to the streak, I would have stopped hitting at 40 games."

There are interesting episodes, including a state dinner in Washington with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and President Reagan.

There are a few mentions of Marilyn Monroe, to whom Joe was married briefly. "A Marilyn Monroe page would be $10,000," said Steiner's president, Jared Weiss.

Steiner Sports Marketing, a memorabilia company based in New Rochelle, N.Y., bought the diaries from Kroywen Associates. Engelberg said he is the attorney for Kroywen, and noted that the company's name is "New York" spelled backward.

Steiner Sports offered the journals in their entirety by auction on its website for 10 days in July with a minimum bid of $1.5 million, but there were no takers. "We wanted to at least give somebody a chance, if they wanted to, to keep the thing whole," Weiss said.

Since then, the company has been offering individual pages for sale. Weiss said some had been sold but would not say how many.

Asked if there were any indication Joe DiMaggio might have approved of the sale of his diaries, Weiss said, "There's a note - it's very hard to read the handwriting on the note, which is the problem with it - but it's a note that I have that Joe wrote to Morris that basically says, 'Do with these what you want.' "

Brandon Steiner, chief executive of the 20-year-old sports marketing company, said, "For him to not leave a specific direction other than do what you want with it basically to me implies that he didn't care. I don't have a doubt that he knew this would get out there."

Engelberg said Joe would drop the pages off with his office manager every month and say jokingly, "Tell Morris this would be good for his book."

"I think he wanted to let the world know who the real DiMaggio was when he wasn't around any longer," Engelberg said. "He was just a normal human being who had a normal daily life."

Richard Ben Cramer, who wrote a biography about Joe DiMaggio, said, "Joe's turning over in his grave. What he did, he did perfectly. Everything else, he wouldn't do. Writing, let's just say, wasn't his main field."

Maureen Cronin, daughter of Red Sox legend Joe Cronin, said, "Having known how private Joe was, I can't imagine that he would have been happy about it."

Asked why someone would pay thousands for one of his brother's diary pages, Dom DiMaggio said, "It stymies me. But I suppose there's a certain pleasure with it, an interest. They just enjoy having it. I don't know what it is."

Today, Boston's DiMaggio is 35 pounds under his playing weight, having had quadruple bypass surgery seven years ago. He said he was diagnosed with Paget's disease about 50 years ago, and the effects of the bone disorder are getting worse. "I've got this swollen collarbone, my neck is kind of swollen, and my back is constantly painful," DiMaggio said.

He watches the Red Sox on TV, and plays bridge two or three times a week. He and his wife, Emily, split time between homes in Massachusetts and Florida.

Asked for his opinion of this year's Red Sox team, the former outfielder to whom Ted Williams went for fielding tips, said, "I think they're very good. I wish those guys in the outfield could throw a little better, but I guess you can't have everything."

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