Joe DiMaggio saw his 56 game hitting streak come to an end on July 17, 1941. 72 years later, nobody, not even DiMaggio himself, has come close to equaling his mark. Before DiMaggio’s streak, which started and ended during the 1941 season, Willie Keeler held the record. Keeler hit safely in the first 44 games of the 1897 season.He also hit safely in the last game of the 1896 season. In the modern era, George Sisler had a 41 game streak in 1922.
The streak began without much fanfare. The game was played in Yankee Stadium in front of a crowd, if that’s what you want to call it, of 9,040. (That would mean there were close to 60,000 empty seats.) Joltin’ Joe went 1-4, with a single and an RBI. Meanwhile, the Yanks got smoked by the White Sox 13-1.
More than two months later, against the Indians in Cleveland, the DiMaggio Streak came to an end.
Since DiMAggio’s feat, Pete Rose is the only Major Leaguer who has been able to hit safely in 40 or more consecutive games. Rose’s 1978 streak lasted 44 games.
Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak began on this day in 1941 with a humble RBI single against the Chicago White Sox. The Yankee Clipper wouldn’t be held hitless again until July 16. That record streak remains one of the most hallowed and admired marks in sports. Andre Ethier of the Los Angeles Dodgers made headlines early this season by putting together a hitting streak barely half as long. In 71 years, no one has come within 12 games of DiMaggio’s record…
The Yankees rallied in the eighth. With one out and three runs already in, Henrich walked to load the bases. Despite Smith’s success with Joe that night, the pitcher was gassed. In came second-generation Major League pitcher Jim Bagby Jr.
DiMaggio had observed, from one knee in the batter’s box, Bagby’s warm-up pitches. Back on June 15, Joe had homered off Bagby, at the time extending The Streak to 28. DiMaggio saw what he wanted. Time to hit. Joe walked purposefully to the batter’s box.
On a 2-1 pitch, DiMaggio swung and bounced a sharp ground ball at shortstop Lou Boudreau. The 24-year-old infielder was celebrating his birthday, but the last hop of this grounder was anything but a gift.
As the ball took an unexpected detour up and to his right, Boudreau stayed with the bad bounce and shoveled to second for a force out. When Ray Mack threw on to first, DiMaggio was the victim of a double play.
An uneventful Yankee ninth inning meant that Cleveland needed to tie in the bottom of the frame for DiMaggio to have any chance to continue his historic run.
Larry Rosenthal’s two-run triple gave DiMaggio’s fans hope, as the score now stood at 4-3. But Yankee reliever Johnny Murphy retired the side, and The Streak ended at 56 straight.
Read about all 56 games in the steak at JoeDiMaggio.com
The American League won the 1941 All-Star on a Ted Williams home run in the bottom of the 9th inning.
The game was played in Detroit at Briggs Stadium. Going into the bottom of the 8th inning the American League trailed 5-2 when Joe DiMaggio doubled off of Claude Passeau and scored on an his brother Dom’s rbi single.
Eddie Smith held the National League scoreless in the top of the 9th. Down by two in the bottom of the 9th, Passeau was back on the mount to close the game out for the Nationals. Frankie Hayes led off and was out on a pop fly to 2nd. Then Ken Keltner came in to pinch hit for Smith and reached on an infield hit to short. Keltner moved to 2nd on Joe Gordon’s single to right. Cecil Travis walked to load the bases. Joe DiMaggio hit what should have been a game-ending double play ball to the National League’s second baseman, Billy Herman; but Herman’s throw to first base was wide, and DiMaggio was able to reach as Travis was forced out at 2nd. Meanwhile Gordon went to third and Keltner scored. Then Williams came to bat with two outs and runners at the corners. He hit a homer into the right field stands and the American League All Stars walked off with a 7-5 win.
Williams went into the All-Star break batting .405. After a July 19 doubleheader his average fell to .393, but by July 25 he was back up to .400. For the rest of the season he stayed above .400 and his final average was .406. Since 1941, no Major League player has batted .400 for an entire season, although Williams did come close in 1957, when at the age of 39 he hit .388.
Ted Williams hit .406 for the entire 1941 season. He is the last Major League player to hit .400 for a whole year.
From the start of baseball’s modern era (1900) until Bill Terry hit .401 in 1930, there were 11 occurrences of a player hitting .400 or more. Williams was the first and last .400 hitter after Terry.
After Williams’s Red Sox lost to the Indians on May 16, 1941, he was hitting a perfectly respectable .333, but between the May 17 and May 25, he went 19 for 39, and lifted his average to .404. Williams was hitting above .400 for the entire month of June, but he hit a “soft spell” at the beginning of July, and by July 19 his average was down to .393. That was his low point for the remainder of the the season. He was hitting exactly .400 on July 25, and he never got below that level for the rest of the way.
After a 3 for 5 game on September 7, Williams’s average spiked to .413, and he appeared to be cruising to a .400 season, but going into the last day Williams had slid back to .400 again.
The 1941 season ended with the Red Sox playing the A’s in a doubleheader at Shibe Park (later renamed Connie Mack Stadium) in Philadelphia. At that point in the season the Red Sox were in second place, but the Yankees had long since run away with the American League Pennant and had a 17 game lead over Boston. For what little it was worth, the Red Sox’ second place finish was also a done deal. Chicago was seven games behind them in third place. And the A’s certainly weren’t going anywhere. They were in dead last place, seven games behind the seventh place Washington Senators.
Williams’ actual batting average before the final double header was 0.399553571428571, which of course rounds to .400.
It’s doubtful that anybody would have cared if Williams sat out the whole double header in order to secure his .400 average, but “Teddy Ballgame” wouldn’t have any parts of that.
He went 4-5 in the opener (three singles and a home run, and two RBIs). That took his average up to .404. As long as Williams didn’t go 0-6 in the second game, he was going to be a .400 hitter. As it turned out, he went 2-3 and wound up the season hitting 0.405701754, or was we say four-oh-six!