On July 3, 1950 At Griffith Stadium in Washington, With rookie Joe Collins not hitting and Tommy Henrich still injured, Casey Stengel afraid to ask Joe DiMaggio to play first base because of frosty relations has the co-owner, Dan Topping ask DiMaggio to play 1B in an experiment. In the 7 – 2 loss he handles 13 chances cleanly but is clearly not happy with the move.
DiMaggio, looked extremely awkward on one play something terribly embarrassing to a man known for his amazing grace in the outfield and at bat. It happened on a swinging bunt down the first-base line. DiMaggio raced in, but pitcher Tom Ferrick got to the ball first and yelled, “I got it.” Trying to scramble back to the bag, DiMaggio fell and nearly was stepped on by the runner. Cameras clicked, and papers the next day carried a picture of the great DiMag crawling around on his hands and knees.
“He was furious to look so clumsy,” Ferrick said many years later. “He was enraged.”
Said Tommy Henrich, who alternated between the outfield and first base, before the game: “He’s afraid of making a dumb play. It would have killed him to make a stupid play.” Nowadays, of course, such a play would be shown endlessly on TV. But veteran sportswriters of the day, who generally idolized DiMaggio, covered for him. In the New York Times, John Drebinger wrote, “It may be reported without fear of contradiction that the Clipper acquitted himself exceptionally well.” In the Washington Post, Shirley Povich told readers, “DiMaggio didn’t botch anything around first base.”
After this one-game experiment, Joe returns to the outfield.