(Originally published by the Daily News on Feb. 17, 1943. This story was written by Hy Turkin.)
A couple of local baseball stars are about to rise in the Service sky. News broke here late yesterday afternoon that Yank slugger Joe DiMaggio had received permission from his draft board to enlist in the Army, and Dodger Manager Leo Durocher had passed his physical exam and had been reclassified 1A. DiMag will take his induction exam in San Francisco today, while Durocher, unless he appeals his case, is slated to join the Colors by late March or early April.
Even before he was reconciled with his wife in Reno last month, DiMag hinted he wouldn’t be around for Spring training. When his wife and year-old Joe Jr. quit Reno, Joltin’ Joe, the highest paid player in baseball ($43,750), kept his 3A draft classification. But he still wanted to join up. Since enlistments terminated on Feb. 1, he needed permission from his draft board to enter the Service, and received that yesterday.
Helped Win 6 Pennants
The 28-year-old centerfield star, who has led the league in batting and had been named its Most Valuable Player twice during his brilliant seven-year career (which included six pennants), said he has no idea in which branch of the Service he’ll assigned. He’s in great physical condition, only four pounds over his playing weight of 190 pounds.
“I’ve got my business affair in good shape now,” smiled DiMag, “so everything is set. I’ve been planning it since last season. Dorothy (his wife) thinks my enlistment is swell. Would I like to toss hand grenades? Sure – my arm feels great. But of course that’s up to the army. I do hope baseball continues for the duration. I know I’ll be interested in what the teams are doing.”
Durocher, who’ll reach the 38-year draft age limit next July, originally was classified 3A by his Local Board No. 133, in downtown Brooklyn. Last month the board ordered him to report for a physical exam, allowing him to take it in St. Louis, where he makes his Winter home. The report on the exam came back last Thursday, and two days later, officials reveal, they mailed Leo’s 1A notice to his home in St. Louis.
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