MARTINEZ, Calif. – Fresh from taking a second-place prize at the recent Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance boat show, Martinez’s “Joltin Joe” boat that once belonged to baseball legend and native son Joe DiMaggio is going to the big leagues.
At the Sept. 5 game between the Oakland Athletics and DiMaggio’s former team, the New York Yankees, the Joltin Joe will be on display between the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, where the Athletics play, and the Oracle Arena, where the Golden State Warriors play until they move to San Francisco.
The area, appropriately, is called “Championship Plaza, said Martinez Finance Director David Glasser, who helped arrange the appearance.
Members of the Local 152 Carpenters and the Sons of Italy helped rehabilitate the boat, which had been given to DiMaggio by his fans. The boat now belongs to the city. For the trip to Tahoe, Public Works Director David Scola and Superintendent Bob Cellini accompanied the boat, along with some of those who restored the craft.
Mayor Rob Schroder said Wednesday that the Joltin Joe was under consideration for its category’s top prize, but questions arose whether its planking, which is 2 inches instead of 1.5 inches, was authentic. First place went to the “Jelly Bean,” from Idaho, he said.
After the awards ceremony, judges got a look at a book brought by Vice Mayor Lara DeLaney that had photographs that later convinced them that the craft may be a new design that differs from Chris Craft’s original plans for utility vessels.
City officials may seek documentation from Chris Craft to substantiate the vessel’s authenticity and that it may be a new type of boat produced by the manufacturer.
The boat attracts attention, not only because of its beauty or that it is owned by a city rather than a private individual, Schroder said. It also has unusual history because of DiMaggio, the Yankees center fielder who was born Nov. 25, 1914, in Martinez.
He was nicknamed “Joltin’ Joe” for his still-standing 56-game hitting streak record as well as “The Yankee Clipper” because of his ground-covering fielding ability. He spent his entire career, 13 seasons, with the New York Yankees, retiring after 1951. The ball club retired his number, 5, the next year.
An All-Star each of the 13 years he played, he was named Most Valuable Player three times, and he played in nine World Series. He was named to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955.
Fans gave DiMaggio the 22-foot Chris Craft on ‘Joe DiMaggio Day Oct. 1, 1949, and he took his new bride, actress Marilyn Monroe, on a bay cruise in the boat in 1954 as part of their wedding reception.
After letting relatives borrow the boat for years, the legendary ball player gave his boat to Martinez in 1991. After declining during years of no repairs, the boat became the subject of the restoration by the Sons of Italy in America, Diablo Valley Lodge No. 2167, joined by the Local Carpenters. Union 152.
At the Athletics game against the Yankees, the Joltin Joe will be displayed alongside an exhibit about another Yankee legend, Lou Gehrig, who played for the team from 1923 to 1939.
The Joltin Joe exhibit will provide visitors information about Martinez’s “Hometown Hero” project to honor DiMaggio.
Through DeLaney, Glasser worked with Angela Rundles, who has been the Athletics’ corporate events planner before forming her own company, and Dave Rinetti, vice president of stadium operations, to arrange the Joltin Joe’s appearance at the game.
Once again, Scola and Cellini will be accompanying the boat on its road trip.
“This is the first time we’re doing it,” Glasser said. The day will be special, since it involves the latest Oakland Hall of Fame celebration.
But unlike their presence at the Tahoe boating event, members of the City Council won’t be able to witness the Joltin Joe’s presence at a Major League baseball game. The Council has a meeting in City Hall that night.