By People Staff
March 11, 1996 12:00 PM

THEY HAD, FROM THE START, A glimmer of Monroe and DiMaggio about them, the Hollywood beauty and the baseball slugger who won her heart. When actress Halle Berry glimpsed Atlanta Braves outfielder David Justice on TV during a 1992 MTV celebrity soft-ball game, “I had cardiac arrest,” she said. “He was so gorgeous.” A few weeks later a writer asked if Berry would sign a picture for Justice, who he knew was already an avowed fan. Berry signed—and added her phone number.

Soon her name was tattooed on his arm, his name was tattooed on her backside. And on Jan. 1, 1993, they exchanged vows in his Atlanta home. Asked by a reporter what she would like to be called, the bride gushed: “Always Mrs. David Justice. My marriage comes first.”

Alas, no more. Although they lasted longer than Joltin’ Joe and Marilyn, who split after just nine months in 1954, Berry, 27, announced on Feb. 22 that she and Justice, 29, were ending their marriage. The breakup, she said, was something “that I am not prepared to discuss.” At the Braves’ training camp in West Palm Beach, Fla., Justice said, “We were bicoastal and didn’t get a chance to spend a lot of time together.” There was no talk of reconciliation; the two couldn’t even agree on when they had drifted apart. Justice said, “We’ve been separated for a few months.” Berry’s manager said, “Not true. Halle was with him last month in Atlanta.”

Berry has had rocky romances before, notably with actor Wesley Snipes. Other boyfriends abused her, including one whose punches left her with an 80 percent hearing loss in one ear. Meeting Justice gave her hope for a more serene life. Atlanta writer Vincent Coppola says that Berry wanted to prove that “two successful black people could live together and support all their goals.”

For a time it worked. Then Berry drifted full-time to their Hollywood Hills home. In October, when Justice hit a home run that clinched the World Series for his team, she was filming Rich Man’s Wife in Seattle. “What am I supposed to do?” she has said. “Say, ‘By the way, can I have this week off? My husband is in the World Series.’ ”

On Feb. 18, Justice made news again, but not for homers. He was questioned by Riviera Beach, Fla., police when they saw him, says a spokesman, parked in an area “known for drugs and prostitution.” No charges were filed, and Justice says Berry “knew what was up with that.” In any case, their marriage was already over. “She’s madly in love with him,” says a friend of Berry’s, “but David wanted a wife, and she was always off making movies.”