When Chris Mazza made his Red Sox debut against the Yankees on August 1, it was a special moment for the right-handed pitcher. It was a chance for him to be a part of the historic rivalry, one that is a part of his family linage.
Mazza is cousins to the DiMaggio brothers, including Vince, Yankees’ legend Joe, and former Red Sox center fielder, Dom.
“Baseball is in my blood,” Mazza told The Boston Globe. “I’ve always loved it. It was definitely a big deal in my family.”
Chris Mazza was just nine years old when he learned of his famous relatives while watching ESPN Classic on television with his older brother.
“You know that’s our cousin, right?” Mazza recalled his brother saying to him, as he told the News-Press.
“He told me he was our grandmother’s cousin,” he added. “Then after that, I started learning more about Dom and Vince. I mean Dom played [with the Red Sox] for 14 years and I didn’t realize that. He had a really good career as well.”
Mazza — who comes from a big Italian Roman Catholic family and grew up in San Francisco — said he often meets cousins he’s unaware are related to him. That includes Joe DiMaggio, whom he met when when he was around six or seven years old at a family reunion.
“I definitely didn’t understand who he was at the time,” he said. “My dad was one of five and his mom and dad were one of five, you know those big Italian Roman Catholic families. You grow up in a family with lots of kids and then you get married and you have a lot of kids. The DiMaggios and Mazzas were big in that area. There were so many of us, it’s hard to be close with everyone, especially ones that live on the other coast [such as Joe].”
I have so much memories of the @redsox and @yankees this rivalry is in my blood and I mean literally in my blood because I’m related to Joe and Dom DiMaggio. I was born for this rivalry and last night was a night I’ll never forget!! #redsox #yankees #dirtywater #joltonjoe #family
— Chris Mazza (@ChrisMazza10) August 2, 2020
Mazza’s cousins are historic figures within Major League Baseball. Of five boys, Vince — the elder brother of Joe and Dominic — had a ten-year career in the major leagues and played for then-Boston Bees, later known as the Boston Braves and now the Atlanta Braves.
Joe, also known as ‘Joltin’ Joe’, suited up for the Yankees and was a three-time MPV, 13-time All-Star, won nine World Series titles and was inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame in 1955. He held the major league record of a 56-game hitting streak in 1941. He was also married to actress Marilyn Monroe, although Mazza claims no relation to the star.
“They were divorced before I was born,” Mazza told the MetroSportsReport in 2014.
Dom DiMaggio, who was also known as “Little Professor,” was a center fielder for the Red Sox from 1940-1953 (with the exception of the 1943-45 season due to serving in the military). A seven-time All-Star who hit a .298 ERA with 87 home runs, he holds the record for the longest consecutive-game hitting streak (34) in the team’s history.
Dom — who passed away in 2009 at the age of 92 — was also was one of the founding partners of the Patriots, then known-as the Boston Patriots. Mazza said he’s done his research on Dom.
“I’ve read up on Dom. He was a great player who was overshadowed,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll get to pitch at Fenway and play a game on the same field he did.”
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