Joe DiMaggio ends 56-game hitting streak

Joe DiMaggio ends 56-game hitting streak

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On July 17, 1941, New York Yankees center fielder Joe DiMaggio fails to get a hit against the Cleveland Indians, which brings his historic 56-game hitting streak to an end. The record run had captivated the country for two months.

Joseph Paul DiMaggio was born November 25, 1914, in Martinez, California. In 1891, his father Giuseppe had emigrated from Sicily to the Bay Area, where he made his living as a fisherman (he was later made legendary by Ernest Hemingway’s 1952 novel The Old Man and the Sea.) The DiMaggio family moved to San Francisco’s Italian-dominated North Beach neighborhood the year Joe was born. Joe was the eighth of nine children, the fourth of five boys, two of whom–his older brother Vince and younger brother Dominic–joined him in the major leagues. His two brothers had successful major league careers, but “Joltin’ Joe,” arguably the best player of his generation, and one of the greatest of all time, was a phenomenon.

In 1941, DiMaggio was in his sixth season as center fielder for the New York Yankees. He had already helped lead the team to the American League pennant and World Series wins alongside first baseman Lou Gehrig in 1936, ’37 and ’38. In 1939, Gehrig fell ill with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, later known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and DiMaggio picked up the slack. That year, he led the American League with a .381 batting average and helped the Yankees to their fourth championship in a row; they were the first major league team ever to four-peat. In 1940, DiMaggio led the American League in hitting again at .352, but the Yankees finished two games behind Hank Greenberg’s Detroit Tigers.

On May 15, 1941, DiMaggio began his record-breaking streak against the White Sox in Yankee Stadium with a single and an RBI. As the streak continued, fans across the nation took notice. DiMaggio broke George Sisler’s American League record of 41 consecutive games with a hit on June 29 at Griffith Stadium in Washington, and four days later, on July 2, DiMaggio broke “Wee” Willie Keeler’s major league record streak of 44 games. As the nation followed DiMaggio’s progress and he continued to hit in game after game, the Les Brown Orchestra scored a hit with the popular tune “Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio.”

Finally, on July 17 in Cleveland, in a night game in front of 67,468 fans, DiMaggio went hitless against Cleveland pitchers Al Smith and Jim Bagby, Jr. In his first three at-bats, DiMaggio grounded out to third twice against Smith, both on hard-hit balls, and then walked. With Bagby pitching in the eighth inning, DiMaggio hit into a double play, ending a Yankee rally and the greatest hitting streak in major league history. DiMaggio confided to a teammate after the game that by failing to get a hit he had also lost the $10,000 promised to him by Heinz ketchup for matching the number “57” featured on their labels.

DiMaggio won the 1941 American League MVP over Red Sox slugger Ted Williams in spite of the latter’s .406 batting average that season, the last time any major league player hit over .400. DiMaggio retired after the 1951 season after 13 seasons with the Yankees that included 10 pennants and nine World Series wins. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955.

Joe DiMaggio ends 56-game hitting streak - HISTORY

Wednesday, November 19, 2003
DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak ends
By Larry Schwartz
Special to

Where has your hitting streak gone, Joe DiMaggio? Up in smoke, because of some outstanding fielding by the left side of the Cleveland Indians infield.

A crowd of 67,468 in Cleveland, a major league record for a night game, sees Joltin' Joe's hitting streak end at 56. Third baseman Ken Keltner makes two outstanding plays, grabbing DiMaggio smashes down the line in the first and seventh innings and throwing him out at first base. In between these at-bats, left-hander Al Smith walks DiMaggio in the fourth.

The Yankee Clipper has one more chance to extend his streak when he bats in the eighth with the bases full against Jim Bagby, a young right-hander who just enters the game. DiMaggio hits the ball sharply, but shortstop Lou Boudreau plays a bad hop perfectly and turns the grounder into a double play.

"I'm not happy that I failed to get a hit," says DiMaggio after the Yankees' 4-3 victory. "I guess relieved would be a better word. Although I haven't been under much strain, there always was a little pressure until I got a hit."

During the streak, which began on May 15 with an inauspicious 1-for-4 game, DiMaggio hit .408 (91-of-223) with 15 homers, 55 RBI and 56 runs.

After the game, DiMaggio will start another hitting streak - 16 games. For the season he batted .357, far behind Ted Williams' .406 mark.

This Day in Yankees History: Joe DiMaggio's 56-Game Hitting Streak Began

After two hitless games, Joe DiMaggio stroked a base hit in the bottom of the first inning off Chicago White Sox&apos southpaw򠻝ie Smith on May 15. The RBI single, bringing home Phil Rizzuto, proved to be the Yankees only run in a 13-1 loss. 

Little did anyone know at the time, DiMaggio would go on to hit safely in 56 consecutive games, a record-long streak that still stands today.

In that game at Yankee Stadium, 79 years ago on Friday, DiMaggio went 1-for-4. Across the next two-plus months, however, the future Hall of Famer hit .408 with 91 hits, 15 home runs and 55 RBI. 

New York went 41-13-2 in that span, en route to a World Series title later that year. DiMaggio won the American League Most Valuable Player Award for the second time in his illustrious career.

Here&aposs an excerpt from Sports Illustrated&aposs coverage of this day in history.

Though DiMaggio&aposs 56-game streak ended on July 17, he started another one in the following game. He went on to record an additional 16-game hitting streak, marking a total of 72 out of 73 games during which he recorded a hit. In the extended stretch, DiMaggio recorded 120 hits, 20 home runs and six strikeouts. Following that season, he never recorded 20-game hit streak again, reaching 19 games as his second-highest in the 1950 season. 

During his run, DiMaggio recorded hits off four future Hall of Fame pitchers: Lefty Grove, Hal Newhouser, Bob Feller and Ted Lyons. He held the highest batting average in the league twice in his career in the 1939 and 1940 seasons. 

Prior to reaching the major leagues, DiMaggio recorded a 61-game hitting streak as a member of the Pacific Coast League&aposs San Francisco Seals in 1933. That streak stands as the second-longest in minor league history. 

20 fun facts about Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hit streak

Determined fans of New York Yankees' Joe DiMaggio crowd their hero for autographs at Game 3 of the World Series at the Polo Grounds. The Yankees beat the New York Giants 5-1 to extend their lead in the Series to 3-0. DiMaggio, in his second year with the Yankees, had a respectable Series, batting .273 with one home run and four RBIs. (Oct. 8, 1937) Credit: AP

Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, the longest in baseball history, began on May 15, 1941 and ended on July 17. Here are 20 fun facts about the streak.

1. Alan Courtney and Ben Horner wrote the song, "Joltin' Joe DiMaggio" that became a big hit for the Les Brown Orchestra.

2. DiMaggio confided to a teammate that failing to extend the streak for one more game cost him the $10,000 promised to him by the Heinz Corporation to endorse their Heinz 57 products.

3. DiMaggio hit .408 during the streak (91-for-223), with 15 home runs and 55 RBIs.

4. DiMaggio was voted the American League MVP that season over Boston's Ted Williams who hit .406 -- the last time a major-leaguer hit over .400.

5. The longest hitting streak since DiMaggio established the record was 44 games by the Reds' Pete Rose in 1978.

6. The streak was interrupted by the 1941 All-Star Game at Briggs Stadium in Detroit. DiMaggio was 1-for-4 against the National League.

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7. He homered for his only hit vs. Boston on July 2.

8. DiMaggio never bunted for a hit during the streak.

9. The St. Louis Browns gave up the most hits -- 22 in 12 games.

10. Indians reliever Joe Krakauskas, a native of Quebec, was the last pitcher to yield a hit to DiMaggio during the streak.

11. DiMaggio had a 61-game hit streak with the San Francisco Seals (Pacific Coast League) in 1933, second-longest in minor-league history to Joe Wilhoit (69 games, 1919).

12. The streak almost ended at 35. On June 24 against St. Louis, DiMaggio was hitless when he batted in the seventh inning, and Browns manager Luke Sewell ordered Bob Muncrief to "walk him!" Muncrief refused, Sewell relented and DiMaggio singled.

13. During the streak, he faced four future Hall of Fame pitchers -- Lefty Grove, Hal Newhouser (twice), Bob Feller and Ted Lyons.

14. Who gets credit for the nickname "The Yankee Clipper"r According to DiMaggio's official website, Yankee Stadium announcer Arch McDonald came up with the moniker for the "gracefulness of his play in the field."

15. When the streak began on May 15, the Yanks were 14-14, 5 1/2 games behind Cleveland in fourth place. After Game No. 56 of the streak, the Yankees were 55-27 and first place with a 6-game lead over Cleveland.

16. After extending the streak to 56 on July 16, DiMaggio led the American League in runs (80), hits (124) and RBIs (76), was tied for the lead in HR (20) and was second to Ted Williams in batting (.395 to .375).

17. St. Louis Browns teammates Bob Harris and Elden Auker each gave up five hits during the streak.

18. Although he failed to get a hit in Game 57, DiMaggio did walk to reach base in a streak that would extend to 74 consecutive games (second all-time to Ted Williams mark of 84 games in 1949).

19. DiMaggio got hits in both games of a twinbill May 30 vs. Boston (Games 15 and 16), but he also committed four errors.

20. DiMaggio got two hits off Cleveland's Bob Feller on June 2. The next day The New York Times reported: "DiMaggio, incidentally, has hit safely in nineteen straight games'' -- believed to be the first printed reference to the streak.

Everything Ends: Joe DiMaggio’s Hit Streak Snapped Today in 1941

Save a few epic outliers, all of baseball’s records are in danger of being broken these days, to the point where the sport’s history books should be written in pencil. After all, the current narrative on today’s players is as recycled as Spotify’s Top 100: They are bigger, faster and stronger.

But are they as consistent?

The “streak” challenges a baseball player’s consistency like no other record in a sport defined by its accomplishments. On July 17, 1941, unquestionably baseball’s greatest streak &ndash likely defined as the greatest in sports &ndash came to a close when Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak ended at 56 consecutive games.

It’s likely to remain untouchable. Seriously, how many of you have even gone to the gym 56 straight days?

Fifty-six games is essentially two months of baseball (when you include off days). It spans more than a third of today’s schedule. Since DiMaggio’s streak in 󈧭, only one player has sustained a hit streak that has made it into the 40’s: In 1978, Pete Rose hit in 44 straight games.

Get how difficult it is yet? We can keep going.

The franchise leaders for 9 major league clubs hold streaks that don’t even reach 30 games. Since 󈧭 only 13 players (including Joe’s brother, Dom, who had a hitting streak of 34 games in 1949) have sustained hitting streaks of over 30 games.

The streak captivated the world to such a degree that it inspired a song and is so untouchable that the game can go seasons without even mentioning the record. Years go by and no player comes close.

But here are some current players who have a chance &ndash even if it’s just slightly above zero &ndash of matching DiMaggio’s streak.

Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers

Baseball’s most complete hitter could lead the league in average every year if he weren’t asked to hit for power. But he is asked to do that too often, meaning he’ll give up at-bats trying to go yard, so he’ll likely never sustain a streak long enough to even be mentioned alongside DiMaggio.

Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

Speed sells when it comes to finding suitors to chase DiMaggio. McCutchen (who, FYI, leads the Pirates in every relevant hitting statistic) has as much of that as anyone in the league &ndash allowing him to beat out infield grounders for singles. So, sure, he’s got a shot.

Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers

He’s only in his second year in the big leagues, but putting a ceiling on this freakishly athletic, generational talent would be like putting a cap on Justin Bieber’s immaturity. He has all the tools to hit for average and an ownership group that has proven it will spend money to surround him with hitting talent, meaning he’ll see more good pitches than most of baseball’s top hitters.

July 17, 1941: DiMaggio’s streak stopped at 56 by Cleveland’s stellar defense

On June 1, 1941, Joe DiMaggio hit a ball sharply toward third base. The ball hit the edge of the glove of Cleveland Indians third baseman Ken Keltner and bounced away. It was scored as a single, but Keltner reprimanded himself for not making the play. He made a mental note: He had to play DiMaggio farther back.1

That single quietly extended DiMaggio’s hitting streak to 18 games. When the Yankees returned to Cleveland in mid-July, having overtaken the Indians for first place in the American League, the streak was front-page news nationwide. Fans welcomed the diversion from the drumbeat of war that was dominating the rest of the news.

DiMaggio arrived in Cleveland claiming the pressure of the streak had subsided. After all, he had cruised past George Sisler’s modern major-league record hitting streak of 41 games, passed Willie Keeler’s nineteenth-century mark of 44, cleared 50 in St. Louis and reached 55 in Chicago. Other than matching his minor-league streak of 61, at this point everything else was gravy. “The pressure’s completely off now,” DiMaggio told the press. “I go to bat just as relaxed as if there had never been any streak.”2 The Cleveland Plain Dealer agreed: “The pressure is definitely off, so don’t be surprised if Joe DiMaggio extends his phenomenal consecutive hitting streak into the month of August.”3

In reality, though, the pressure was building with every game, the tension mounting with every at-bat that left DiMaggio hitless. “You can’t imagine the strain,” Sisler said that summer. “You try to forget, but it can’t be done. It’s in your head every time you step to the plate.”4 “When Joltin’ Joe came to bat, the entire Yankees bench stood at the edge of the dugout and exhorted him to get a hit,” Cleveland fan Joseph Oriti recalled. “Every at-bat had a heightened dimension.”5

The Yankees pounded the Indians 10-3 in the series opener on July 16, opening up a six-game lead in the standings. DiMaggio singled in the first inning to snap the suspense, and added a single and a double to finish 3-for-4. His hitting streak stood at 56 games.

That game was played at cramped League Park, in front of 15,000 fans. The July 17 game would be held under the lights at massive Cleveland Stadium. With history on the line, 67,468 fans poured into the stadium – the largest crowd in baseball that summer, and a new record for a night game.6

The crowd didn’t have to wait long to see DiMaggio. An RBI double by Tommy Henrich in the top of the first inning off Indians left-hander Al Smith gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead and brought DiMaggio to the plate. Ken Keltner, mindful of DiMaggio’s hit that handcuffed him on June 1 right here at Cleveland Stadium, was playing well back, heels on the outfield grass, and close to the line.7

Keltner, who was becoming a perennial All-Star more for his glove than for his bat, later said he was thinking about the pennant race, not the streak.8 He knew DiMaggio rarely bunted (DiMaggio had zero bunts in the last 56 games), he said, and that DiMaggio pulled curveballs off lefties.9 Author Michael Seidel asked DiMaggio decades later how deep Keltner was playing him that day. “Deep?” DiMaggio replied. “My God, he was standing in left field.”10

DiMaggio swung at a curveball over the plate and lined it hard down the third-base line.11Keltner lunged toward it and made a backhand stab behind the bag. His momentum took him into foul territory, but he planted and fired to first. DiMaggio, slowed out of the box by damp dirt after rain earlier that day, was out by half a step.12

DiMaggio’s next at-bat came in the top of the fourth with the score still 1-0. After working the count full, DiMaggio decided to swing at anything in the vicinity of the plate.13 The next pitch was a changeup and he fouled it off. Then Smith sent a curveball so far inside that DiMaggio couldn’t turn the bat around he took it for ball four.14 The crowd booed Smith for the walk,15 reflecting mixed feelings they would display the whole night. They wanted the Indians to win, but they were also pulling for DiMaggio. “If ever 67,468 people were confused,” wrote Seidel, “this was the night.”16

The crowd had no ambivalence in the bottom half of the fourth, when Gee Walker hit an inside-the-park home run to tie the game. The game was still tied in the seventh when DiMaggio came up with one out and no one on. At third, Keltner was standing even farther back this time, and even closer to the line.17Keltner had barely gotten DiMaggio out on his hard shot down the line in the first, and wanted to be ready for another one.

That’s exactly what he got. DiMaggio swung at the first pitch, another curveball on the inside corner, and hit a carbon copy of his first-inning line drive. Keltner was better positioned this time but still had to make a quick play. Once again, Keltner backhanded it behind the base, threw across his body, and barely beat DiMaggio. Keltner had robbed DiMaggio of two doubles.18 The nervous crowd started to weigh the consequences.

The Yankees took the lead on a home run by the next batter, Joe Gordon, and scored two more in the eighth for a 4-1 lead. Then Smith walked Henrich to load the bases with one out, and the Indians brought in reliever Jim Bagby Jr. DiMaggio was up next. Fans leaned forward, knowing this was his last chance. “You could hear everybody’s heart pounding, on both sides,” recalled Indians shortstop Lou Boudreau.19

Bagby delivered a low fastball and DiMaggio caught the top of it, bouncing it toward Boudreau. After a couple of hops the ball struck a stone in the grass and shot straight up in the air. But in an instant, Boudreau made the adjustment, grabbed the ball at shoulder height, tossed it to Ray Mack at second to retire Henrich, and watched Mack fire to first in time for the double play to end the inning. DiMaggio was 0-for-3 with a walk. Without betraying any emotion, DiMaggio retrieved his glove and trotted out to center field.20

In the ninth inning the Indians gave the crowd a glimmer of hope both for a win and another DiMaggio at-bat. The Yankees sent five men to the plate without scoring, turning over the lineup for a possible 10th inning. Then the Indians started the bottom of the ninth with two singles off Lefty Gomez and a pinch-hit triple by Larry Rosenthal off reliever Johnny Murphy. It was 4-3, and the tying run was on third with nobody out.

But hopes of extra innings vanished just as quickly as they arose, with a grounder to first, a grounder to the pitcher that caught Rosenthal in a rundown, and another grounder to first for the third out.21 The game was over, and so was DiMaggio’s hitting streak.

The Yankees clubhouse was about as quiet as it had ever been after a win, let alone one that gave them command of the pennant race. “The whole thing was bound to stop sooner or later,” DiMaggio told the press.22 He agreed to pose for photographers with his thumb and forefinger forming a zero, indicating his hit total that night. “I’m not happy that I failed to get a hit,” he said. “I guess relieved would be the better word.23

Keltner exited promptly, receiving police protection out of the stadium.24 DiMaggio waited for hours for the stadium to clear out. His only complaint to rookie teammate Phil Rizzuto was that he had missed out on a promotional bonus of $10,000 from Heinz 57 if he had reached their magic number.25

After two months, 56 games, 91 hits, 15 home runs, and only five strikeouts, DiMaggio’s hitting streak was over. He had been stopped by breathtaking defensive plays and a ninth-inning rally that fell just short. “The game was among the most memorable ever played,” Seidel wrote.26 “Despite being a tried and true Indians fan all my life, I was disappointed,” recalled Joseph Oriti. “It still resonates far beyond any game I ever saw. Any fan in attendance would attest that they witnessed a game unparalleled in the realm of baseball.27

DiMaggio immediately started a new streak, hitting safely in his next 16 games. Granted, pitchers were less cautious with him and DiMaggio was more relaxed at the plate. But it doesn’t strain the imagination to think that but for Cleveland’s stout infield on July 17, DiMaggio’s immortal number could have been 73. Or at least 57.

In addition to the sources mentioned in the Notes, the author consulted and

1 Mike Vaccaro, 1941: The Greatest Year in Sports (New York: Knopf Doubleday, 2008), 192.

Five interesting facts from Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak

On July 17, 1941, the greatest hitting streak in Major League Baseball history came to an end. After collecting at least one basehit in a record-setting 56 consecutive games, Joe DiMaggio finished 0-for-3 with a walk in a Yankees 4-3 win against the Cleveland Indians.

The end of DiMaggio’s streak was unceremonious. In his last at-bat, DiMaggio grounded into a double play, which he’d only done twice during the streak. We’ll never know what might have happened had he not walked during the fourth inning of that game, but DiMaggio was never about extending the streak anyway. He was about getting on base and helping the team.

Needless to say, he helped them immensely before, during and after the historic two-month run that defines his legacy. In fact, you might be floored to learn just how productive DiMaggio was, specifically while his hitting streak was alive. That’s why we’ve picked out five facts that we think will illustrate that or simply amaze you.

The Yankees went 41-13-2 during DiMaggio’s streak

You read that correctly. Two games finished in a tie. On May 23, the Yankees played the Red Sox to a 9-9, nine-inning tie when the game was called due to darkness. Six days later, a Yankees-Senators game in Washington was called after five innings and ruled a 2-2 tie. Both games were eventually played over, but the stats counted.

As wild as the ties are though, New York’s 41 victories in 56 games are even crazier. The whole team caught fire along with DiMaggio, winning 14 in a row at one point late in the streak. New York would go on to finish 101-53, winning the American League by a comfortable 17 games. They defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers four games to one in the World Series, securing the ninth of their now 27 championships.

DiMaggio had 35 one-hit games and several close calls

DiMaggio’s streak wasn’t without its share of drama, though most of his close calls came early in the streak. Overall, DiMaggio had 35 one-hit games during the 56, and in 13 of them the lone hit came in the seventh inning or later.

The closest call came on May 30, when DiMaggio singled in the ninth inning against Boston’s Earl Johnson. He extended it five times in the seventh inning and seven times in the eighth inning.

He only struck out five times

Consistent contact is key to maintaining a hitting streak. It absolutely fueled DiMaggio’s historic streak, as he constantly put the ball in play and pressured the defense to get him out. DiMaggio’s first strikeout didn’t come until his 61st plate appearance during the streak and he did not strikeout a single time in the last 149 plate appearances. He would ultimately go 197 plate appearances between strikeouts.

DiMaggio finished the streak with 56 singles and 56 runs scored

If you like symmetry, then you’ll love those stats. DiMaggio also finished with 55 RBIs, so it was nearly a four-of-a-kind. Overall, DiMaggio slashed .408/.463/.717 during the streak, with 15 home runs and 20 additional extra-base hits.

DiMaggio immediately started another 16-game hitting streak

Had DiMaggio extended the streak against Cleveland, we might be talking about a 73-game hitting streak. As it is, his on-base streak, which started one day before the hitting streak, reached 74. If it’s possible, DiMaggio got even warmer during the sequel. He hit .426/.506/.838 with five homers and 18 RBIs.

Today in Sports History: Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak ended in Cleveland

On July 17, 1941, New York Yankees outfield Joe DiMaggio had his record 56-game hitting streak ended by the stellar defense of the Cleveland Indians.

67,468 fans packed Cleveland Stadium that night with somewhat conflicting hopes. While they wanted to see their hometown Indians win the game, they also wanted to see DiMaggio’s streak extended. In the end both wishes were thwarted.


Over the course of DiMaggio’s two-month-long streak he collected 91 hits, 15 home runs, and only five strikeouts, while batting slightly north of 400.

DiMaggio’s consistency at the plate helped lead the 󈧭 Yankees claim their fifth World Series title in six years, and their ninth overall.


DiMaggio’s streak obliterated the previous record of 45 games set by the Orioles’ Willie Keeler over the 1896-97 baseball season. In the years since Joltin’ Joe set the MLB record, only Pete Rose has managed to breach the 40-hit threshold, when he collected hits in 44 straight games in 1978.

Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak ended 78 years ago today

There’s nothing special about a 78-year anniversary. It’s not a round number or anything and we tend to like round numbers. But (a) I was reminded of this today and (b) we have no idea if the Martians will have invaded and taken over the planet come 2021, so I feel like it’s best to run this now than wait for the 80th anniversary. Cool? Cool.

Anyway: on this day in 1941, Joe DiMaggio’s still-unbroken and possibly unbreakable (see below) 56-game hitting streak came to end. The game took place in Cleveland in front of a staggering 67,468 fans. Not bad for a Thursday night. The way the streak ended, courtesy of an ESPN Classic post from Larry Scwartz back in 2003:

Third baseman Ken Keltner makes two outstanding plays, grabbing DiMaggio smashes down the line in the first and seventh innings and throwing him out at first base. In between these at-bats, left-hander Al Smith walks DiMaggio in the fourth.

The Yankee Clipper has one more chance to extend his streak when he bats in the eighth with the bases full against Jim Bagby, a young right-hander who just enters the game. DiMaggio hits the ball sharply, but shortstop Lou Boudreau plays a bad hop perfectly and turns the grounder into a double play.

To be clear: 56 may not be broken in my lifetime or yours. It’s obviously a SUPER difficult task to string together a hitting streak of considerable length. As we saw when guys like Pete Rose or Paul Molitor or whoever have come within spitting distance of DiMaggio’s record — long spitting distance — the pressure ramps up and it’s hard to do you job with a lot of pressure. Add in the fact that simple base hits are harder to come by in today’s game than they used to be due to prevalent hitting, pitching and defensive trends, and it’d be no shocker whatsoever if no one ever does it.

But I draw the line at “unbreakable,” simply because, as noted above, stuff does happen. And because there’s nothing structural preventing it from happening. It’s not like Cy Young’s 511 wins or something which fundamental changes in the game have made basically impossible. No one is going to win 26 games a year for 20 years straight or what have you. Heck, CC Sabathia is baseball’s current gray hair among pitchers and only has a few dozen more career starts than that. It’s just a different game.

Hitters do play in 150-160 games now, though, and the good ones do average more than one hit per game. Putting them in the right arrangement may never be likely, but doing so is only a matter of stars aligning, not breaking the fundamental rules of engagement. It could happen. Maybe. Because, unlike some other records, it did before under broadly similar circumstances.

OK, that aside, I’ll offer up my favorite and most maddening DiMaggio hitting streak fact.

A Random Tribute to Joe DiMaggio’s 56-Game Hitting Streak

May 15, 1941 – Joe DiMaggio , the Yankee Clipper, ripped a single off of White Sox pitcher Eddie Smith. He was a wiry, young Italian-American who had learned the game of baseball on the sandlots of San Francisco and had grown to play centerfield for the New York Yankees. He didn’t know it at the time, but his hit off Smith had just set him on a journey to accomplish one of the most incredible feats in baseball history. DiMaggio would record a hit in 56 straight games , setting a Major League record that may never be broken.

Of course, while riding his amazing streak, DiMaggio rose to the rank of instant superstar. His name, littered with vowels in all the wrong places, became one of household commonality. Americans flocked to the front of busy newsstands and department stores so they could read the headlines or listen to radio broadcasts about Joltin’ Joe . Even Major League players, including DiMaggio’s own brother Dom, an outfielder with the Boston Red Sox, received updates on Joe’s performance while on the playing field themselves. There was not a man, woman, or child in America that wasn’t completely hooked on DiMaggio’s heroics.

And who could blame them? The simple fact was that, no matter what the circumstances, Joltin’ Joe would always come through with a clutch hit to extend the streak another day. And he did so for just over two months, racking up 91 hits (including 15 dingers), 65 RBI, and 56 runs scored…all in just 56 games.

All Good Things Come to an End

On July 17, DiMaggio took a taxi to Yankee Stadium where he would attempt to extend the streak to 57 games. The driver, a life-long Yankees fan, told Joe he had a bad feeling the streak would end that day. DiMaggio smiled and shook the man’s hand as he stepped out of the cab. Then he calmly strolled to the locker room and suited up for game number 57. He smashed two hard liners in the game, but both were gobbled up by White Sox third baseman, Ken Keltner. Pitcher, Jim Bagby , held Joe hitless in his final two at bats and that was that…the streak was broken.

Somewhere in New York City a taxi driver felt like stabbing himself in the eye with a white-hot poker for possibly jinxing his favorite player. “I felt awful,” Joe said of the cab driver after the game, “He might have spent his whole life thinking he’d jinxed me, but I told him he hadn’t. My number was up.” The very next day, DiMaggio started a new streak that lasted 16 more games…which meant he had recorded a hit in 72 out of 73 games. Now there’s a stat that’ll make your head spin around like that possessed chick from The Exorcist.

Dominic DiMaggio must have picked up some magic from his younger brother because, in 1949, it was his turn in the spotlight. From June 26 to August 7, Dom went on a 34 game hitting streak. He piled up 51 hits, 35 runs, and 13 RBI. His last chance to push the streak to 35 games came on August 9, in the seventh inning of a game against the Yankees. Dom hit a long fly ball that landed harmlessly in the glove of the centerfielder, who happened to be his kid brother, Joe DiMaggio. It was rumored Joe felt so bad about ending his brother’s streak he took him out for a steak dinner after the game.

In 1978, a young star named Pete Rose began the only modern streak ever to rival DiMaggio’s mark. Between June 14 and July 31, Charlie Hustle dished out 72 hits and batted nearly .400 while running his streak to 44 games. Many experts at the time believed he was on his way to breaking DiMaggio’s record. But on August 1, Braves’ pitcher Gene Garber, struck out Rose in his final at-bat of the game. Imagine the frustration Rose must have felt after delivering a knock in 44 straight, only to look up and notice he was still a dozen donuts shy of the Clipper. That’s the kind of stuff that can drive a man to drinking…or gambling. Hmm. That’s odd.

A Streak with a Twist

The most recent streak of any serious note was turned in by Phillies’ shortstop, Jimmy Rollins . During the final months of the 2005 season, Rollins delivered 61 hits. He knocked in 22 runs and stole 15 bases while building up a 36 game hitting streak. Then he met his worst enemy…the end of the season. Rollins was forced to take his streak into the off season and resume it again in April of 2006. He added a few more games to the total, but on April 6 Jason Marquis of the Cardinals halted J-Rolls’ streak at 38, still 18 games shy of DiMaggio’s record.

The Last Streak Standing

The mark of 56 straight games with a hit is one that DiMaggio has held for over 65 years. No modern player has come within 12 games of tying this mark and many (including this writer) believe it is a record that will stand as long as people play baseball. There’s really no question that DiMaggio completed one of the greatest feats in baseball history during the summer of ‘41.

This Day in Sports History: Joe DiMaggio Begins 56-Game Hitting Streak

A one-for-four game against the Chicago White Sox was the spark of a special run for the New York Yankees&apos Joe DiMaggio as he began his MLB record 56-game hitting streak 79 years ago today. 

After back-to-back hitless games, DiMaggio began his offensive hot streak by hitting a single into left-centerfield off the White Sox&apos Eddie Smith on May 15, 1941. The Hall of Famer did not record a hitless game for another two months, an MLB record that stands to this day.

When the streak began, the Yankees were in need of a boost. The team lost the game 13-1 and fell to 14-15 on the season. DiMaggio HAD a .306 batting average on the year. 

By the time DiMaggio&aposs hitting streak ended on July 17, the Yankees rocketed as the clear leaders in the American League with a six-game advantage. New York went on to win the 1941 World Series. DiMaggio led the team and lifted his batting average to .357 for the season. He was named MVP for the second time in his career. 

DiMaggio&aposs 56-game hitting streak set a standard that no MLB player has yet to approach in the 79 years since. The Cincinnati Reds&apos Pete Rose came closest to the mark when he recorded a hit in 44 consecutive games in 1978.

The longest streak by a Yankee following DiMaggio&aposs mark was 29 games, set by Hall of Famer Joe Gordon in 1942. Derek Jeter also recorded a 25-game hitting streak in 2006. 

A 26-year-old DiMaggio ended his streak with an 0-for-3 showing on July 17 against the Cleveland Indians after two plays by Ken Keltner kept him off the bases. In the 56 games prior, DiMaggio recorded a .408 batting average withꀕ home runs and 55 RBI. The Yankees also wentꁁ-13-2 during the timeframe. 

DiMaggio&aposs streak was nearly ended prematurely when he faced the St. Louis Browns (now known as the Baltimore Orioles) 35 games in. On June 24, DiMaggio entered his final at-bat 0-for-3 in the game, and St. Louis pitcher Bob Muncrief was told to walk him. Muncrief refused, though, and DiMaggio got on base with a single to extend his streak. He ended up hitting off St. Louis 22 times in 12 games that season, a high against any team during the streak. The instance was also one of four games in which DiMaggio recorded a hit in his final at-bat. 

Though DiMaggio&aposs 56-game streak ended on July 17, he started another one in the following game. He went on to record an additional 16-game hitting streak, marking a total of 72 out of 73 games during which he recorded a hit. In the extended stretch, DiMaggio recorded򠄠 hits, 20 home runs and six strikeouts. Following that season, he never recorded 20-game hit streak again, reaching 19 games as his second-highest in the 1950 season. 

During his run, DiMaggio recorded hits off four future Hall of Fame pitchers: Lefty Grove, Hal Newhouser, Bob Feller and Ted Lyons. He held the highest batting average in the league twice in his career in the 1939 and 1940 seasons. 

Prior to reaching the major leagues, DiMaggio recorded a 61-game hitting streak as a member of the Pacific Coast League&aposs San Francisco Seals in 1933. Tha streak stands as the second-longest in minor league history. 

DiMaggio ended his 13-year Yankees career as a three-time MVP, 13-time All-Star, nine-time World Series winner and Hall of Famer. 

Watch the video: Joe DiMaggios 56-Game Hit Streak in Jeopardy? Unlikely