Book: Lawyer Cheated DiMaggio

ByABC News
October 15, 2000, 6:03 PM

N E W  Y O R K, Oct. 15 -- Joe DiMaggios lawyer cheated him out of severalhundred thousand dollars in memorabilia in the last days before hisdeath, according to a new biography on the New York Yankee great.

In his book, Joe DiMaggio: The Heros Life, Richard Ben Cramer says Morris Engelberg, DiMaggios lawyer and friend throughthe 1990s, had the Yankee Clipper sign baseballs while he washospitalized.

Excerpts of the book, due to be released Tuesday, were includedin the Oct. 23 issue of Newsweek magazine.

Information Allegedly Controlled, Too

Cramer says Engelberg made a secret deal to get 2,000 baseballsmade specially for Joe DiMaggio Day at the end of the 1998 baseballseason, with the intent of having them unwittingly signed and thensold for his own gain without DiMaggios knowledge.

According to the book, Engelberg gained DiMaggios trust becausehe made more money for him than any of his previous businessmanagers. Cramer claims Engelberg took thousands of items DiMaggiosigned, including baseballs, lithographs and canceled checks.

In October 1998, two weeks after the Yankees held Joe DiMaggioDay on the last day of the season, DiMaggio was hospitalized andhad a cancerous tumor removed from his right lung. Then, aftercontracting pneumonia in his other lung, DiMaggio was placed on arespirator.

Cramer says Engelberg manipulated the release of informationduring DiMaggios fatal illness, often dispensing false updates andprognoses. DiMaggio died on March 8, 1999.

Engelberg was unavailable for comment. A message left on hishome answering machine by The Associated Press was not immediatelyreturned.

Was Planning to Remarry Marilyn?

The author also details how DiMaggio, viewed as a consummategentleman on and off the field, was a lonely man who didnt trustpeople and was obsessed with money and privacy.

Cramer tells how DiMaggio rushed home after an earthquake in SanFrancisco before Game 3 of the 1988 World Series, and emerged with$600,000 in a garbage bag.