To a little kid, being called a "good for nothing" can hurt, and if the person calling you "good for nothing" is your father, it hurts even worse. It's hard to imagine that anyone would call a child "good for nothing", but Guiseppe's father did. The reason? Because Guiseppe was a lousy fisherman. Seem a bit bizarre? Well, little Guiseppe's family were fisherman by trade, and they had been fisherman for nearly 5 generations. They were a very proud family. Fishing was an honorable profession, and the family held one of the most prestigious spots on famed Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. Then, like today, people flock to the famous San Francisco landmark to enjoy the fabulous restaurants, the unbelievable selection of fresh fish, lobster, crabs, shrimp and other sea foods.
But even with all this going for him, Guiseppe couldn't stand any of it. Everything about fishing made him sick. He had been going out on the boat with his father ever since he was practically a baby. He got sea-sick every single time. He hated the smell of fish. It literally made him sick to his stomach. And when you add a rather potent fish smell to a rocking boat, you can imagine what little Guiseppe went through almost every trip. His Papa was furious.
Who did Guiseppe think he was? He came from a long line of fisherman. Fishing was in his blood, or it should have been anyway. But every time Papa took Guiseppe out on the boat, he spent most of the time leaning over the railing or laying on a cot in the cabin, holding his stomach with one hand and his nose with the other. Good for nothing! That was all there was to it. Back on land of course, Guiseppe was good for a lot of things. He felt awful that he wasn't able to help in the family business, so he did what he could. He got a job as a newspaper boy, an errand boy, sweeping out stores after hours, and every cent went to the family coffers. Guiseppe didn't keep a dime for himself. But none of that was good enough for Papa. Guiseppe wasn't a fisherman, so he was good for nothing!
But as you might guess, Guiseppe wasn't a complete failure. No indeed! As a matter of fact, he became the most successful member of his family. Did Papa ever retract his harsh words? Yes, eventually, when Guiseppe became one of the most beloved athletes in the world. It's a little known fact that the sea-sick little good for nothing boy who, try as he may, could never help with the family fishing business, went on to become one of the most famous men in America. He even married a very pretty girl. And it all happened when he put down the fishing net and he picked up a baseball and changed his first name to Joe . . .DiMaggio!
-Thanks to Tabby Pitts