1941: Joe DiMaggio's Hitting Streak: Games 12-26

Alex Carrasquel, Senators

Game 12 - Tuesday, May 27, 1941

The Yankees won a 10-8 slugfest from the 7th-place Senators on a sunny afternoon at Griffith Stadium. The teams combined for 30 hits, the Yanks rapping 18 of them.

  • DiMaggio got three singles and a 3-run HR off three different pitchers: Ken Chase, Red Anderson, and Alex Carrasquel. (Alex was the first native of Venezuela to play in the majors. He was the uncle of Chico Carrasquel, who had a solid career with the White Sox in the 1950s.)
  • Joe's average jumped 15 points to .331.

In Boston, the Red Sox split a doubleheader with the Philadelphia Athletics.

  • In the opening 5-2 victory, Ted Williams went 1-2, with a 2-run HR.
  • The A's romped in the nightcap 11-1. Williams got a single in four tries to reduce his average to exactly .400.

Born that day: Allan Carr, movie director (Grease)
Major event: The British sank the German battleship Bismarck.

Game 13 - Wednesday, May 28, 1941

The Yankees beat the Senators 6-5 to move four games over .500 (22-18) and pull within 4.5 games of first place Cleveland, the closest NY had been since DiMaggio's streak began.

25,000 attended the first night game ever at Griffith Stadium. Although not the sellout owner Clark Griffith hoped for, it was still three times the attendance for the afternoon game the day before.
  • Senator legend Walter Johnson turned on the lights at 8:30 to begin a new era in the nation's capital. Only three AL teams remained with lights - the Yankees, Red Sox, and Tigers.
  • The Yankees trailed 3-1 going into the eighth, and Joe was hitless against curveballer Sid Hudson. But he smacked a triple against the high RF wall with one out to start a 5-run rally. George "Twinkletoes" Selkirk capped the inning with a grand slam to hand the Nationals (as they were also called) their 10th straight defeat.
  • Before the game, DiMag complained of a swollen throat that would bother him the next day as well.

Griffith Stadium with Lights
Griffith Stadium, Washington D.C.

The Red Sox and A's played a 16-inning marathon that Philly won 8-6 at Fenway.

  • Ted Williams had a double and two singles in five official ABs along with 3 walks.
  • This outburst raised his average to .409

Sid Hudson, Washington Senators

 

 

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Steve Sundra, Senators
Steve Sundra

 

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Game 14 - Thursday, May 29, 1941

Joe's illness continued.

  • His swollen throat persisted along with a stiff neck that caused difficulty turning to the side and looking up for a fly ball.
  • Only roommate Lefty Gomez knew the extent of Joe's discomfort, which DiMag tried to treat by wrapping heating pads on his neck as he got into bed.
  • Joe didn't want his manager, Joe McCarthy, to know about his problem, much less reporters.
  • He wasn't enduring the pain because of the hitting streak, which hadn't caught his attention yet. Instead, he just thought his team needed him.

The final game of the Washington series, an afternoon game after the night game, ended in a rain-shortened 2-2 tie.

  • Since the teams played five complete innings, the records counted although the contest would have to be replayed in its entirety the next time the Yankees visited Washington.
  • Fortunately, Joe got a fourth inning single in three trips against former teammate Steve Sundra. The Clipper scored a run but also struck out once.

The Yankees boarded a train for Boston where the Red Sox beat the Athletics 6-4 to earn a split in the four-game series and even their record at 18-18.

  • Williams raised his average to an astounding .421.
  • He belted a HR and two singles in four trips with 2 R and 2 RBI.
Game 15 - Friday, May 30, 1941 Game One

34,500 packed Fenway Park for the Memorial Day doubleheader. (Memorial Day was celebrated on May 30 at that time regardless of the day of the week.)

  • The Yankees struck for 3 in the ninth against starter Earl Johnson to pull out a 4-3 victory in the opener.
  • The visiting DiMaggio contributed a single to the rally, his only hit in two official ABs with two walks.
  • Still bothered by his stiff neck, he dropped Joe Cronin's fly ball earlier in the game. Between games, Joe tried to get some movement in his neck to no avail.
  • For the Red Sox, Dom DiMaggio got a double and a single in 5 ABs to raise his average to .347, 16 points above his brother.
  • Ted Williams, like Joe, went 1-for-2 with 2 BB, only Ted's hit was a double. His BA rose a point to .422.

Fenway Park 1941
LF wall at Fenway Park in 1941

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Game 16 - Friday, May 30, 1941 Game Two

The Red Sox romped in the nightcap, 13-0. It was the first time in 42 games that the Yanks were shutout that season.

  • Joe, thinking he could unkink his neck by throwing the ball as hard as he could, twice sailed throws over C Buddy Rosar's head into the stands. He also misplayed a fly off the bat of Williams. That gave him an embarrassing four errors for the day.
  • DiMaggio's pop-fly double in the fifth extended his streak. Southpaw Mickey Harris surrendered only one other hit.
  • The fans rode the Yankee CF, hollering "Meatball Joe" and "Dommy's better."
  • The next day, Lefty Gomez let slip the news about Joe's neck. When confronted by reporters, DiMag refused to use it as an excuse. "I just had a bad day."
  • Dom went 1-for-4 with an RBI. Surprisingly for the leadoff man in an offense that plated 13 runs, he did not score.
  • Williams's 2-for-3 gave him an average of .429.

The two teams left on the same chartered Pullman train for their next western swing.

  • The Yankees would exit at Cleveland while Boston continued to Detroit.
  • There is no record of the DiMaggio brothers spending any time together on the train.
Saturday, May 31, 1941 - Rainout

The Yankees were scheduled to begin a three-game series with the first place Cleveland Indians. However, rain postponed the opener set for 3 pm at old League Park. The game would be made up as part of a Sunday doubleheader at the much larger Municipal Stadium. So Joe's streak stayed at 16 games.

The American League standings at the start of the day looked like this.

Team W L % GB
Cleveland 29 17 .630 --
Chicago 25 16 .610 1.5
New York 23 19 .548 4.0
Detroit 23 20 .535 4.5
Boston 19 19 .500 6.0
Philadelphia 21 21 .500 6.0
St. Louis 13 27 .325 13.0
Washington 14 28 .333 13.0

Rain also cancelled the Red Sox game at Detroit. The Tigers rescheduled it as part of a Sunday doubleheader at Briggs Stadium.

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Al Milnar, Indians

Game 17 - Sunday, June 1, 1941 Game One

52,081 turned out in the big stadium on the lakefront to watch their first place Indians take on the hated Yankees.

  • Red Ruffing outdueled lefty Al Milnar in the opener, 2-0.
  • His sore neck feeling better after a day off, DiMaggio garnered a single in four tries and scored a run.

The Red Sox beat the Tigers 7-6 in their first game before 25,851 in Detroit.

  • Ted Williams got a double and a single in four trips with a walk. He scored two and drove in one.
  • Dom DiMaggio continued his hot streak with 3-for-5.
Game 18 - Sunday, June 1, 1941 Game Two

New York swept the doubleheader 5-3 to raise their record to 25-19 and pull within two games of the Indians.

  • Lefty Gomez scattered six hits in eight innings. In an unusual move for that era, Marv Breuer pitched a scoreless ninth for what today would be scored a save.
  • Joe D. managed a ground ball single in four ABs against curveballer Mel Harder. Joe's average dipped slightly to .328 as a result of the 2-for-8 twinbill.
  • The game was completed in 1:53 after the opener took 1:57 - times that were close to the norm in that era but rarely seen in 21st century baseball.

The Red Sox also swept in Detroit, 6-5

  • Teddy Ballgame actually lowered his average by going 2-for-5. Presaging the HR he would hit in July to win the All Star at Briggs Stadium, one of his two hits was a four-bagger as he drove in 3 and scored 2.
  • Williams finished the doubleheader at .430 with an on-base percentage of 1.218 (calculated retroactively). An OBP over 1 is comparable to a BA over .400.

Events of that day: Slugger Mel Ott of the New York Giants hit his 400th HR and drove in his 1500th run.

Mel Harder, Indians
Mel Harder

 

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Bob Feller
Bob Feller

Lou Gehrig
Lou Gehrig

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Game 19 - Monday, June 2, 1941

The Indians salvaged the finale of the three-game series, 7-5, before 6,000 at League Park.

  • Bob Feller went the distance to move his record to 11-2. He gave up only seven hits, including a double and single by DiMaggio. It was Joe's first multi-hit game since the opener against Washington (Game 12 of the streak).
  • The next day's New York Times contained this sentence in a series of brief notes following the writeup of the game: "DiMaggio, incidentally, has hit safely in nineteen straight games." As far as is known, that was the first printed reference to his streak.

The Red Sox completed their sweep of the Tigers 9-1.

  • Williams stroked a single in four ABs with a walk.
  • That dropped his average six points to .424.

When the Yankees arrived in Detroit that night, they learned that Lou Gehrig had died in New York.

  • While the news was not a shock, it still cast a pall over the team. Dickey exclaimed, "My God! I only spoke to Lou a few days before we left New York. He told me he felt fine."
  • It was in Detroit two years and one month earlier when Gehrig had taken himself out of the lineup after 2,130 consecutive games.
  • Having played his first three seasons with Lou, DiMaggio appreciated the quiet friendliness the elder statesman showed toward him. Gehrig rarely spoke to the press about other players, but he had high praise for Joe: "He has a marvelous disposition for a ballplayer. His expression never changes. You mark my words. He is going to be the greatest right-hand hitter in baseball."

Born that day: Drummer Charlie Watts, actor Stacy Keach

Game 20 - Tuesday, June 3, 1941

DiMaggio, Dickey, and Gomez began the day in Detroit speaking on a nationwide radio program honoring Lou Gehrig.

  • The Yankees decided that manager McCarthy and Dickey would attend the funeral the next day in New York.
  • Bill left immediately while McCarthy waited until after that afternoon's game.

The rainy day at Briggs Stadium, with the flags flying half-mast, matched the nation's mood.

  • Before the first pitch, everyone stood for a minute of silence in Lou's honor.
  • Joe smacked a homer in the fourth inning, his only hit in four AB against Dizzy Trout.
  • The Tigers scored 4 in the first and held on, 4-2.
  • The teams hurried through the contest in 1:39 as only 3,523 watched.

Boston's night game at Cleveland was postponed.

Personal story: When I was a young teenager in the 1950s, dad and I attended a preseason game at Pelican Stadium, New Orleans, between the Tigers and White Sox. Before the game, I ran down the aisle to Dizzy Trout, who was signing autographs alongside the dugout. As I arrived, he asked me what I had for breakfast that morning! I thought, "That's why they call him 'Dizzy.'" But writing this over 50 years later, I figured out what may have occasioned his odd question. He may have been referring to the speed with which I ran down the aisle.

Dizzy Trout, Tigers
Dizzy Trout

 

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Dorothy Arnold DiMaggio
Mrs. Joe DiMaggio

 

 

 

 

 

Previous Games

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Wednesday, June 4, 1941 - Rainout

Joe's wife Dorothy, who was halfway through her pregnancy, attended Lou Gehrig's funeral that morning with Lefty Gomez's wife, June. Both women were actresses before their marriages.

  • The services were held at Christ Episcopal, a small church two blocks from Gehrig's home.
  • The night before, more than 5,000 pepole packed the streets around the church waiting to see his body in a mahogany coffin surrounded by roses.
  • The mourners ran the gamut from children and truck drivers to men in business suits and women in fancy dresses.
  • Each Yankee sent a telegram to Lou's widow, Eleanor. After holding strong caring for her husband as his health deteriorated for two years, she broke down when the stack of messages arrived.
  • McCarthy and Dickey, along with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, were among the honorary pallbearers.
  • A steady rain fell throughout the funeral and the trip to the crematorium. Many took that as a sign that even Mother Nature wept for the beloved Iron Horse.

Babe Ruth at Lou Gehrig's Casket
Babe Ruth views Lou Gehrig's body. How ironic - Babe, who didn't take care of himself, outlasting his clean-living teammate by seven years

Rain also pelted Cleveland and Detroit, washing out the Yankees-Tigers and Red Sox-Indians games.

  • The Yankees sat glumly in the hotel all day.
  • They agreed that the rain and cancellation of the game were fitting, given what was occuring back home.
Game 21 - Thursday, June 5, 1941

The leaden skies continued as the Yankees and Tigers completed their run-shortened two-game set before 8,230.

  • Joe had a run-scoring triple in the sixth and scored himself. It was only safety in five ABs against Hal Newhouser.
  • Tommy Henrich hit a dramatic two-run HR in the ninth to tie the game, but the Tigers won in the tenth, 5-4.
  • The loss dropped the 25-22 Yankees to fourth place, still 3.5 games off the lead.
  • As it turned out, New York would never be that low again in the standings in 1941.

The Red Sox got in one game of their series at Cleveland.

  • Ted continued his rampage with a HR and 2 singles in 4 ABs, with 4 R and 3 RBI. His average rose to an amazing .434.
  • Boston romped 14-1 to take over third place from the Yankees.
  • Only 3,000 turned out to watch the first-place Indians at League Park.

Hal Newhouser, Tigers
Hal Newhouser

 

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Ted Williams as a Rookie
Ted Williams

DiMaggio Streak: Friday, June 6, 1941 - Travel Day

The Yankees continued their western swing by traveling from Detroit to St. Louis for a three-game weekend series with the Browns. The Red Sox did likewise, going from Cleveland to Chicago. However, the Boston four-game series at Comiskey Park started on Friday.

  • The Bosox won their sixth in a row, 6-3, to pull within a game of the second-place White Sox.
  • Ted Williams smacked a HR and 2B in four ABs to raise his average two points to .436.

Major event that day: Kaiser Wilhelm II, who led Germany during World War I, died.

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Game 22 - Saturday, June 7, 1941

The Yankees began a three-game series with 7th-place St. Louis before a sparse Saturday crowd of 2,394 at Sportsman's Park, the stadium that the Browns owned and leased to the much more successful Cardinals for half the season.

  • Joe began a three-game Mound City rampage with three hits off three different hurlers in 5 AB. He singled off Bob Muncrief, Johnny Allen, and George Caster.
  • DiMaggio drove in one and scored two as the Yanks won the slugfest 11-7.
  • The victory broke a three-game losing streak for McCarthy's club.

In Chicago, the White Sox ended the Red Sox six-game winning streak, 5-4.

  • Ted went 1-for-4 with a walk.
  • His average dropped five points to .431.

Born that day: Violinist Jamie Laredo
Major event: Whirlaway won the Triple Crown at Belmont Park with Eddie Arcaro aboard.

Bob Muncrief, Browns
Bob Muncrief

 

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Game 23 - Sunday, June 8, 1941 - Game 1

Joe faced Elden Auker again, the same Browns P he got a hit off in Game 6 of the streak.

  • He fared better this time with 2 HRs in 4 AB with 4 RBIs. Completely over his neck ailment, he was stinging the ball repeatedly.
  • The Yanks romped 9-3, Auker giving up all the tallies. Red Rolfe and Tommy Henrich also smacked circuit clouts.

In their first game at Chicago, the Red Sox resumed their winning ways, 5-3 in 10.

  • White Sox P walked Williams three times.
  • Officially, he was 0-for-2.
  • THIS ENDED TED'S 23-GAME HITTING STREAK, which would turn out to be the longest of his major league career.
Game 24 - Sunday, June 8, 1941 - Game Two

The Yankees swept the doubleheader and the series, 8-3.

  • Joe continued to pound Brownie pitching with another HR and a double in 4 AB.
  • His victims were George Caster and New Orleans native Jack Kramer from S. J. Peters High School.
  • The 4-for-8 doubleheader raised his average to .340.
  • The game was called after 7 innings because of darkness. Even though the Browns had installed lights at Sportsman's Park in 1940, league rules prohibited the lights from being turned on to complete a game started in the daytime - more forward thinking by the owners.

At Comiskey Park, Boston completed its doubleheader sweep of the White Sox 3-0 behind Dick Newsome's 6-hitter.

  • Williams went hitless for the day, 0-for-3 in the nightcap. He did have a base on balls.
  • His average fell all the way to .416.

The Yankees at 28-22 and the Red Sox at 26-20 were in a virtual tie for second with the White Sox, who also stood at 28-22. They were all 4 games behind the Indians.

Boston and New York now swapped cities to complete their western swing.

Born that day: Singer Clarence "Fuzzy" Haskins

Jack Kramer, Browns
New Orleanian Jack Kramer

 

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Jeff Heath, Cleveland
Jeff Heath
Monday, June 9, 1941 - Exhibition Game

The Yankees did not travel directly from St. Louis to Chicago for the next series.

  • Instead, they went west to Kansas City for an exhibition game against their American Association affiliate, the Blues.
  • As it turned out, they could have saved themselves the trouble as the game was rained out, much to the chagrin of the minor league team's management, which counted on such visits from the major leaguers to produce a good crowd.

The Red Sox management also scheduled them for an exhibition game.

  • Boston walloped Indianapolis 23-13 on their way from Chicago to St. Louis. The American Association Indians were an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds.
  • Dom DiMaggio got word in Indianapolis that his San Francisco Draft Board ordered him to report for a physical the next Saturday in Boston when the team returned from its western road trip. Such reports dotted the sports pages once or twice a week as the nation readied itself in case the U.S. became involved in the war in Europe.
  • Ted Williams continued to lead the AL batting race by a whopping 56 points over OF Jeff Heath of Cleveland, who himself boasted an outstanding average of .360.
DiMaggio Streak: Game 25 - Tuesday, June 10, 1941

The Yankees opened a three-game series at Comiskey Park, Chicago, to end their second western swing of the season.

  • The White Sox 3B was another San Francisco Italian, Dario Lodigiani. Eight years earlier, Dario and his friends went to Seals Stadium after school to see if 18-year-old Joe DiMaggio would extend his hitting streak in the Pacific Coast League. Eventually, it reached an amazing 71 games.
  • The rules forbade fraternizing with the opponents, which meant that Dario couldn't talk to Joe on the field before the game.

With the streak starting to gain publicity in the press, the players as many in the crowd of 2,832 took note of the fact that DiMag was hitless in his first three trips to the plate and might have only one more AB as he strode to plate in the seventh to face Johnny Rigney.

  • At third, Lodigiani bore down, determined to do his part to stop the streak. He had already thrown out Joe in the sixth when the Yanks exploded for 5 to break a scoreless tie.
  • Rigney had stayed in the game despite the onslaught. Earlier in the month, Rig's draft board told him to report in three weeks. The P had asked for a 60-day deferment so he could earn a contract bonus. To his surprise, the board agreed.
  • However, Johnny heard the usual complaints about a ballplayer getting special treatment. The publicity caused the director of selective service in Illinois, with apologies to his fellow White Sox fans, to file an appeal directly to President Roosevelt to reverse the deferment.

None of that was on the minds of pitcher, batter, and third baseman as DiMaggio took his usual wide stance in the box.

  • Joe swung at the first pitch, a fastball, and drilled a low liner that bounced up and hit Lodigiani in the chest.
  • Lodi grabbed the ball and threw hurriedly to first, but Joe beat it by an eyelash.
  • The official scorer didn't hesitate to rule it a hit. No one in the press complained about that decision.
  • The Yankees recorded their fourth straight victory, 8-3.

Boston would have to wait to get its turn to mop up on the lowly Browns. The game in St. Louis was rained out.

Born that day: Singer Shirley Alston of The Shirelles

Reference: 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports, Kostya Kennedy

Dario Lodigiani, White Sox
Dario Lodigiani

 

 

 

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DiMaggio Streak: Wednesday, June 11, 1941 - Rainout

The Yankees-White Sox contest in Chicago was cancelled by rain. So was the Red Sox-Browns game in St. Louis.

  • That left Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak at 25 games for another day.
  • Ted Williams stayed at .416.

The American League standings at the end of the day looked like this.

Team W L % GB
Cleveland 36 20 .643
--
New York 29 22 .569
4.5
Boston 26 20 .565
5.0
Chicago 28 23 .549
5.5
Detroit 29 24 .547
5.5
Philadelphia 24 28 .462
10.0
St. Louis 16 32 .333
16.0
Washington 17 36 .321
17.5

Major event that day: Vichy-France planes bombed Tel Aviv, killing 20 Jews

Game 26 - Thursday, June 12, 1941

The Yankees completed their western swing by edging the White Sox 3-2.

  • The game was one of the seven night games that Chicago was allowed under league rules.
  • The game drew 37,102 to Comiskey Park two days after the first game of the series, on a Tuesday afternoon, attracted only 2,832.

Joe DiMaggio did not go down to his last AB to keep his streak as he had done two days earlier.

  • Joe singled in the fourth off southpaw Thornton Lee, who had been his victim in Game 2 of the streak.
  • With the game tied with two out in the tenth, Joe crashed an HR off Lee into the upper deck in LF to provide Joe McCarthy's club its fifth straight victory.
  • Earlier in the game, Joe had made two excellent running catches in the third inning. Also, when his fellow San Franciscan Dario Lodigiani tried to score from second on a single, DiMag fired a rope from deep CF to catch him.
  • The Yankees left around midnight on a charter train after compiling a 9-5-1 record on the road trip. McCarthy required coats and ties on road trips.

In St. Louis, the Red Sox and Browns got in a doubleheader after two straight rainouts.

Game One

  • The Red Sox scored 4 in the first only to have the home team top that with 5. Another 2 in the second sent St. Louis toward a 9-4 victory.
  • Ted Williams got a measly single and struck out once in 5 ABs to drop his average to .409.

Game Two

  • Joe Cronin's club salvaged a split, 3-2.
  • Williams's slate showed a two-run HR and a W in two official ABs. That left his average at .410 as the team took the longest train ride in the majors: St. Louis to Boston.

Born that day: Jazz pianist-composer Chick Corea; sportscaster Marv Albert

Manager Joe McCarthy, Yankees
Joe McCarthy

 

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Ted Williams & Joe DiMaggio
Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio 1941

DiMaggio Streak: Friday, June 13, 1941 - Off Day

We don't know if Joe DiMaggio shared the Friday the 13th superstition. However, the schedule made the question moot because the Yankees had the day off after their 15-game road trip.

  • New York went 10-4-1 on the swing.
  • The Yankees left home in 3rd place 7 games behind Cleveland and returned in 2nd place four games behind the Indians.
  • DiMaggio added 15 games to his hitting streak to reach 26 and catch the attention of the baseball world. He raised his average 9 points to .340.

The Red Sox also had the day off after a fine road trip.

  • Boston won 8 of 10 on their western swing.
  • They also gained on Cleveland, moving from six behind in fifth place when they left the Hub City to five behind in third place.
  • Ted Williams lost 20 points on his batting average during the 10 games, from .429 to .409.

Born that day: Actor Robert Forrester

 

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Games 27-42

Games 43-56

 

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