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Late Yankees Hero Portrayed in Cards That Span Extraordinary Major League Career

Seven rare baseball cards spanning the career of the late New York Yankees icon Joe DiMaggio — the earliest dating to his fabled rookie year of 1936 — will go on display in The American Wing of The Metropolitan Museum of Art on April 20, concurrently with the opening of the 1999 baseball season and the celebration of Joe DiMaggio Day at Yankee Stadium (April 25). The DiMaggio cards will be on view remain on view through the World Series — October 31, 1999.

The mythic "Yankee Clipper," who died on March 8, will be portrayed in a National Chicle Company Issue 1936 colored-photo card; in a group with teammates Frank Crosetti and Tony Lazzeri in a 1936 Baseball and Football Diamond Star, Leather Finish card; in a Goudey Heads Up Issue 1938 card; in a Goudey Gum Company's 1939 Baseball Star card; in a 1939 Play Ball America card from Gum, Inc. Issue; in a Baseball Stars of 1943 card from M. P. & Co. Issue, and finally in a Leaf Gum Company's 1948 All Star Baseball card, in an ensemble that includes Warren Spahn, Honus Wagner, Phil Rizzuto, Babe Ruth, and Stan Musial.

DiMaggio played for the Yankees from 1936 through 1951, excluding three years for World War II military service, participating in 10 World Series in 13 seasons, and notably hitting safely in 56 consecutive games in 1941 — a record that remains unbroken 58 years later.

All the cards come from the Jefferson R. Burdick Collection, the largest and most comprehensive collection of American trade cards ever assembled in the United States. Burdick (1900-1963), an electrician by profession, deposited 300,000 items at the Metropolitan between 1943 and 1963, including thousands of baseball cards, for which he developed a system of record-keeping that remains in use today.

Until 1993 the cards were available for viewing at the Museum by appointment only. That July, in response to the enthusiasm of young collectors, the Metropolitan installed 16 sets of baseball cards in special frames on the first floor of The American Wing, just west of the Temple of Dendur in The Sackler Wing. The display space was created, the Metropolitan noted at the time, in the hope that young visitors and their parents, drawn to the Museum to view the collection, would be encouraged to spend additional time experiencing the other treasures awaiting them in the adjoining galleries.

Legendary Yankees shortstop Phil Rizzuto, a DiMaggio teammate during the 1940s, personally unveiled the installation at the Metropolitan on its opening day (the initial display included a 1948 DiMaggio card); the installations have rotated every six months during the past five-and-a-half years. The Burdick Collection is housed in the Museum's Department of Drawings and Prints.

The new installation was organized by the Department of Drawings and Prints.

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April 5, 1999

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