The first half of the book, Charyn is just a fan that enjoyed nothing more than going to Yankee Stadium and watching DiMaggio play the game of baseball with such grace.
In a sense Charyn wanted to keep his DiMaggio the unvarnished hero that the Yankee Clipper was when he wore the pinstripes.
The later half tells a story of a man who struggled with life after baseball, the true love of DiMaggio’s life, until he met Marilyn Monroe.
Monroe and DiMaggio loved each other but valued how they were perceived to be even more, as the most beautiful actress and the greatest to play the game.
Once DiMaggio desired for Monroe to take on the role of wife their relationship soured. Only to end with DiMaggio being rejected, which did not bode well with a man who was suppose to be perfect. Charyn asserts to the idea that it was only after Monroe’s tragic death, that DiMaggio became the thoughtless character he is remembered for today.
Whether it was in DiMaggio’s personality or whether the pressure of being a baseball star got the better of him is what the author brings into question. Maybe DiMaggio felt used and baseball was the only real personal connections he truly formed authentically.
It makes DiMaggio’s attitude almost understandable and for a moment even endearing. Charyn’s words describe a passionate man in everything he did, regardless of whether it was good or bad, it was just very real.
It justifies why DiMaggio said, “I’d like to thank the good Lord for making me a Yankee.”
The book reiterates a recurring theme amongst athletes still today, why life is sometimes so hard off the baseball field, when everyone seems to love you when you are on it.
When I completed reading The Long Vigil, one of my favorite quotes came to mind this one by Dr. Harriet Braiker.
It best describes how I perceive Joe DiMaggio after being influenced by Charyn valiant words:
“Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.” – Dr. Harriet Braiker
- “The DiMaggio Difference”: Choosing the Church (weddingbee.com)
- Baseball On The One’s: Part 6 (timesunion.com)
- The Most Remarkable Fact About the Streak Being…: (brothersjuddblog.com)
- Book Review: Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil by Jerome Charyn (blogcritics.org)
- Hank Greenberg: The Hero Who Didnt Want to Be One, by Mark Kurlansky (theglobeandmail.com)
- Joe DiMaggio, A Star With The Power of Silence (npr.org)
- The Selling Of The Joe DiMaggio Brand (luxist.com)