Marilyn Monroe attended a Yankees game in 2006. No, really – she did!

Marilyn Monroe did not know a great deal about baseball, but she became inextricably linked with America’s Pastime after marrying Joe DiMaggio, arguably its most celebrated exponent.

Joltin’ Joe had already retired from the New York Yankees by the time he met Marilyn, and their 1954 wedding came as he settled into an awkward post-retirement malaise, but baseball was king back then, and its golden couple captivated America long before Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift.

Unlike Swift, however, Monroe seemed reticent to learn about the craft that made her husband a household name. “Joe, you never heard such cheering,” Marilyn once said after performing for US troops in Korea. “Yes, I have,” Joe replied, tersely. Her innocent ignorance irked DiMaggio, whose fierce pride commanded respect.

To that end, the DiMaggio-Monroe marriage was notoriously explosive and infamously short – divorce followed just nine months after the exchange of vows. Then, of course, Monroe died tragically in August 1962, aged 36. But DiMaggio never stopped loving Marilyn, despite their separation, and he had fresh roses delivered to Marilyn’s grave every week in perpetuity.

You will be pleased to know this is not another outlandish piece broadcasting conspiracy theories about Monroe’s death, nor is it an exploration of her most complicated tryst. Rather, this article serves to highlight a quirky, under-told fact: that Marilyn Monroe attended a Yankees home game on 30 August 2006. Not that Marilyn Monroe, admittedly, but this is the story of how, and why, regardless. Be ready to baffle your friends with this useless knowledge. It is little-known yet endlessly intriguing.


On that day – Wednesday 30 August 2006 – the Detroit Tigers were in town to face the vaunted Yankees. Rain earlier in the week necessitated a doubleheader, and the Tigers rolled in at 82-49, on track for their first winning season since 1993. Managed by the avuncular Jim Leyland, Detroit spawned a juggernaut that year – a lineup featuring Curtis Granderson, Magglio Ordóñez, Plácido Polanco and Carlos Guillén complementing a pitching staff orbiting Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman, Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney. The Tigers received career years from many key contributors, and a formidable core fell into place.

An unheralded cog in that core, playing left field for Detroit at Yankee Stadium, was Craig Monroe, a 29-year old athletic freak finally putting it all together at the big league level. An eighth-round pick in the 1995 draft, it took Monroe eight years to became a major league regular in Detroit – a powerful bat belying raw impatience at the plate. Craig finally locked down a starting role with the Tigers in 2003, and though never an All-Star, he became an above-average contributor for more than four years in Detroit. 

It just so happens that Craig’s mother is named Marilyn, making her – yes – Marilyn Monroe. A resident of Texarkana, Texas, she had never visited New York City until Craig invited her to the Big Apple during the Tigers’ 2006 trip. “We’re country people,” Craig told Joe Lapointe of the New York Times contemporaneously. “I wanted to do something for her. Something special.”

To wit, Craig Monroe hired a car and driver to transport his mom around The City That Never Sleeps – from Times Square and the Empire State Building to a Broadway production of The Lion King. In fact, when the Yankees-Tigers game was postponed on Tuesday, Craig joined his mom for the show. It was a rare moment in the limelight for this Marilyn, whose quiet forbearance underpinned Craig’s underdog emergence.

Facing peak Chien-Ming Wang in the first game of the doubleheader, Monroe went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts as Detroit lost, 2-0. Monroe also went hitless in the series finale against Cleveland prior to the Yankees series, leaving him in an 0-for-8 slump. As such, according to the Oakland Press, Monroe spoke to his mom between games, and she told him to forget about his struggles and just enjoy the moment. That approached seemed to help, as Monroe broke out with a double off reliever Brian Bruney late in the second game.

Still, Detroit found itself down, 3-2, entering the ninth inning – typically a death knell in Yankee Stadium. However, fortunately for them, legendary Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was unavailable, having pitched in the first game. Instead, Scott Proctor was tasked with locking down the save, which he seemed likely to do despite mixing two walks and two outs.

And so, as if torn from the pages of a contrived Hollywood script, Craig Monroe came to the plate as Detroit’s last hope. Ninth inning, two on, two out, 3-2 deficit, mom watching from the stands. Trying to get ahead, Proctor threw a breaking ball down and away to Monroe, who unleashed a vicious swing from that potent – if inconsistent – bat. Duly crushed, the baseball soared a mighty parabola and came to rest in the netting above Monument Park, beyond the left field fence, for a stunning home run. Hush blanketed a crowd of 54,509 as Monroe rounded the bases, Tigers up 5-3. Todd Jones then recorded the final three outs, and the Tigers celebrated an exhilarating win.

“Marilyn Monroe is here in New York, and I’m thrilled,” Craig told reporters, excitedly, after the game, relayed by “Of course, you’re going to do all the things like buy her a house and all those things you dream about as a kid. But I wanted her to come here and enjoy the atmosphere of me playing in New York – Times Square, the lights, the whole thing – because we’re country people, and I wanted her to get a chance to get out and see the things I see. She doesn’t get out, so it’s exciting for me that I get to share my big league moments with somebody who was my idol.”

Marilyn Monroe.

New York.


It just has a certain ring to it, huh?


The Tigers finished 95-67 in 2006 and embarked on a postseason run for the first time in 19 years. Fittingly, they played the Yankees in the American League Division Series (ALDS), triumphing in four games, before sweeping Oakland to win the pennant. Leyland’s magic carpet ride ended abruptly in the World Series, as Detroit lost to St Louis, but that Tigers squad claimed an eternal place in the heart of jaded Motor City fans.

Monroe went 12-for-50 in the 2006 playoffs, with five home runs and nine RBI pacing a lethal Tigers lineup. Unfortunately, his playing time was then greatly diminished in a difficult 2007 season, and Detroit designated him for assignment midway through that campaign – a sharp fall from grace. Monroe caught on with the Cubs, then spent two further seasons as a backup for the Twins and Pirates, before retiring after the 2009 season.

However, while toiling in Minnesota, Monroe produced another wholesome moment related to his mom – his two home runs on Mother’s Day, 2008, helping the Twins to a 9-8 win over Boston. Live on ESPN, Monroe dedicated those blasts to Marilyn, talking into a camera as he returned to the dugout from his home run trot. “She’s my biggest support,” he said after the game. “She’s the best.”

All told, Craig Monroe hit 115 home runs in 814 career games, spanning nine years in the big leagues. He hit many consequential dingers, including two in the World Series, but few were more memorable – more sentimental and revered – than that with his mom, Marilyn Monroe, in attendance at Yankee Stadium. 

In the end, then, Craig Monroe was no Joe DiMaggio, but they do have some things in common. They were both big league outfielders. They both experienced the thrill of hitting a game-winning home run at Yankee Stadium. And they both loved Marilyn Monroe, whose presence stoked inspiration.

It is a harmless little footnote in baseball history, when all is said and done. To most fans, it is meaningless flotsam, discarded upon discovery. But to me, a kooky baseball nerd, it is a fun and unusual tale that brings a smile to my face. And that, in the end, is all that really matters. That is what makes baseball so great.

Buy me a coffee

If you enjoyed this article, please consider leaving a digital tip. I do not believe in ads, subscriptions or paywalls, so please buy me a coffee to show your support. All contributions are greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Subscribe for free to receive all my writing straight to your inbox.

* indicates required

More from Ryan Ferguson

My all-forgotten Yankees team
The players you probably forgot wore pinstripes.
Read Now
Iván Rodríguez did NOT get called up to MLB on his wedding day
Debunking a persistent myth of baseball arcana.
Read Now
That time baseball superstar Rafael Palmeiro advertised Viagra
Because everything is bigger in Texas, right?
Read Now
What I got wrong about social media
Lessons from an eight-month hiatus.
Read Now
I missed social media, so I’m using it again
How a persistent hunger for frictionless microblogging led me back to X – and Threads.
Read Now
That time Doug Mirabelli got a police escort to a Boston Red Sox game
The cross-country escapades of a rotund backup catcher.
Read Now
The Red Sox once signed Sammy Sosa, but he never played for Boston
How Slammin’ Sammy almost called Fenway home.
Read Now

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

Social Proof Experiments