1941: Joe DiMaggio's Hitting Streak: Part IV
Games 1-11
| Games 12-26 | Games 27-42
Game 43 - Tuesday, July 1, 1941 - Game One

Even the Yankee officials were astounded when 53,832, the largest attendance of the season, showed up for the doubleheader against the Red Sox in the midst of an Eastern seaboard heat wave with temperatures well into the 90s.

  • Many fans waved Italian flags.
  • "Men used handkerchiefs to wipe their foreheads and the backs of their necks. People fanned themselves with their score cards; everybody had one it seemed. By the fifth inning a thick, bluish haze of cigarette smoke had gathered in the sultry air and sat upon the field. The mass of white shirts shimmering beyond the CF fence made it difficult for the batter to pick up the ball."

Joe's favorite bat, stolen between games of the doubleheader in Washington, had still not been found.

  • Sitting behind the Yankee dugout as DiMaggio's guests were Jerry Spatola and his wife and daugther.
  • Jerry was in process of tracking down the missing bat using his "connections." Word on the street was that the bat was in Newark.
  • An usher had seen someone leaving Griffith Stadium Sunday with the bat. How many times it had changed hands since then was anybody's guess.
  • At any rate, Joe was not the type of hitter to get bent out of shape without his "special" bat. All his Louisville Sluggers were 36" long but weighed anywhere from 33 to 37 ounces to give him flexibility based on the P, the temperature, and the wear and tear of a long season. He had ordered a new batch after the theft.
  • As usual, when Joe ran out to CF to start the game, he stepped on 2B.

The Red Sox started second-year southpaw Mickey Harris, Joe's victim in Game 16.

  • DiMaggio fouled out on an 0-2 count in the first.
  • By the time he came up in the third, NY led 4-0. He grounded out to 3B Jim Tabor.
  • By the fifth, 38-year-old righty Mike Ryba had replaced Harris. The crowd languished in the heat but came to life as Joe approached the dish.
  • After throwing two screwballs for strikes, Mike missed with three straight, causing some boos from those fearing a walk. Joe, not wishing to walk, swung at an inside pitch that was probably ball four, hitting it off the handle. The ball bounced high and landed fair about 30' down the 3B line. Tabor hurried in and threw wildly over the 1B's head. Dan Daniel, again the official scorer, wasted no time in signaling a hit. In his opinion, not even an accurate throw would have caught the fleet DiMaggio.
  • When a photo of the swing that extended the streak appeared in newspapers around the league the next day, many opponents reached the same conclusion: Joe was pressing. "So unusual was it to see DiMaggio like that, to see him lunging and off-balance ... His right knee nearly touched the ground. His left foot was too far extended and it was awkwardly turned. 'Why, that's not the way Joe bats,' said Connie Mack in Philadelphia. 'I never saw anything like it.'"

Many fans didn't realize that Joe had been credited with a hit.

  • So they were anxious when he stepped up again in the sixth. He lined a 1-0 pitch into LF for a single. Even those who would have questioned Daniel's "homer" scoring had no quarrel now.
  • The Yankees won 7-2. Dom homered for the Red Sox, but no Yank followed suit, ending the record consecutive HR streak at 25 games. However, no one even noticed that. Williams went 1-for-4 to fall to .401.
  • Joe showered and donned a fresh uniform for the second game. As always, he drank a half cup of coffee while he smoked a cigarette. He probably also took one of the salt pills that trainer Doc Painter passed around to fortify his charges against the oppressive heat.

Reference: 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports, Kostya Kennedy (2011)

Mike Ryba, Red Sox
Mike Ryba, who caught as well as pitched








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P Jack Wilson, Red Sox
Jack Wilson


DiMaggio Ties Keeler - 2

DiMaggio Equals Keeler




Game 44 - Tuesday, July 1, 1941 - Game Two

Dark clouds were gathering over Yankee Stadium to help cut the heat a little. Even with rain in the air, no one in the mammoth crowd had left.

  • Fastballer Black Jack Wilson toed the slab for Boston.
  • Joe ended the suspense in his first AB by rapping a 1-0 pitch over SS Joe Cronin's head for a single.
  • The Yankees and the crowd went wild. Fans tossed scorebooks and hats in the air.
  • By the time Wilson retired the side, the Yanks led 3-0. Slowly, fans began to leave as the game progressed.
  • By the end of the fifth with darkness setting in, the sky was black as were the prospects of the Red Sox, who trailed 9-2.
  • With no lights in the stadium (and an AL rule prohibiting turning them on to finish a day game anyway), plate umpire Ed Rommel called the managers out. They agreed that the game should be called on account of darkness.
  • Joe went 1-for-3 with a run and an RBI. Williams' 1-for-2 inched his average up to .402.
DiMaggio Game 44 Hit

DiMaggio admitted his anxiety to his pal and road roommate Lefty Gomez.

  • "It's kind of hard to keep from pressing. The last few games have been a little hard. I know I mustn't press." Lefty did his best, as always, to shield Joe from the press and public and keep him relaxed.
  • New York Times assigned reporter Russell Owen to write a profile on Joe. "How are the nerves?" he asked his subject, who answered, "Doesn't pay to get excited in this game. Some guys naturally are more tense than others. They can't help it, and today I can understand why, but it's my job. I'll do the best I can."
  • Lefty seemed more nervous than Joe. "Nothing bothers this guy," Gomez told Owen. "He sleeps like a log. He's a good ballplayer because he knows what he can do and that is why he is relaxed."
  • Owen relayed the comment to DiMaggio. "Lefty was saying that you're always relaxed," to which Joe replied, "I guess it just looks that way."

Born that day: Rod Gilbert, NHL winger; Sally Quinn, CBS newscaster; choreographer-dancer Twyla Tharp
Major event: TV channels 2 and 4 began broadcasting in New York City.

Game 45 - Wednesday, July 2, 1941

Only 8,682 came to see Joe break Keeler's record. (GM Ed Barrow had a blind spot with regard to night baseball.)

  • The great Lefty Grove was scheduled to pitch for the Red Sox but decided not to battle the heat.
  • That decision put the ball in the hands of 31-year-old rookie righthander Dick Newsome, who had surrendered a single to Joe in Game 9 of The Streak.
  • "Goofy" Gomez, past his prime at 32 but still a solid hurler, would start for the Yankees in quest of his sixth victory.
  • Because of the heat, McCarthy allowed his boys to skip infield practice.
  • Five photographers vied for positions on both sides of the plate to capture the hit that would make Joe the new consecutive games champion. Motion picture cameras were set up in the stands.
  • Before the game, a photographer got Williams and DiMaggio to pose together. However, Joe had not talked to Dom at all during the Red Sox visit.
  • Joe's wife Dorothy sat with her parents in an unshaded box seat. A photographer trained his camera on her each time hubby came to bat.

Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio, 1941
Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio, 1941 - of course, Ted is the one talking.

Joe kept the crowd in suspense before keeping The Streak alive.

  • He strode to the plate in the first in the bright sunshine and lined a 1-1 curveball into deep RCF. The players in the dugout as well as the fans jumped up but RF Stan Spence, after briefly misjudging the ball, recovered and made a leaping catch. Doesn't that bum Spence have any sense of history?
  • In the third, Joe again cut at a 1-1 curve and pulled it down the 3B line. Tabor backhanded the ball behind the bag and threw Joe out by a stride. The Red Sox is playing over their heads today, pullin' plays outta their ...
  • By the fifth inning, it must have been 100° on the field as DiMag came up again. Many booed when Newsome threw two straight balls. Pitch to him, ya bum ya! Joe then swatted a liner foul into the LF stands. He made good contact with the next pitch also, driving it fair into the LF stands for his 18th HR. Some say Joe smiled as he toured the bases. At the plate, he doffed his cap to the cheering crowd and joined his exultant teammates in the dugout.

The HR was part of a 6-run inning that broke open a 2-0 game and propelled the Yanks to their sixth straight victory, 8-4, and tenth in their last eleven.

  • By the end of the day, they led Cleveland by 3 games.
  • Joe finished 1-for-5 with 3 RBIs. As he ran in from CF following the last out, a boy snatched his cap and ran toward the CF exit. Mike Ryba, leaving the Red Sox bullpen, knocked the lad down, allowing ushers to retrieve Joe's cap. (Grounds for a lawsuit today.)
  • McCarthy afterwards: "I don't believe anyone but a ballplayer is in a position to appreciate what it is to hit in 45 straight games." He added that he didn't think Joe's record would ever be topped. No one thought to ask if Williams might someday threaten The Streak.
  • Joe: "I don't know how far I can go, but I'm not going to worry about it now. I'm glad it's over. It was quite a strain the last ten days. Now I can go back to swinging at good pitches. I was swinging at some bad ones so I wouldn't be walked."
  • Leave it to Lefty to sum up the event: "Joe hit 'em where they ain't."
  • A police escort ushered the new record holder through the throng waiting outside the stadium.

Ted went 1-for-3 with a W to keep his average at .401.

Born that day: Golden's cousin Eugene Breaux and good friend Larry Liss
Major event: Noel Coward's play Blithe Spirit opened in London.

Reference: 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports, Kostya Kennedy (2011)

DiMaggio's Swing From Behind


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Athletics Slugger Bob Johnson
Bob Johnson








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Thursday, July 3, 1941 - Off Day

The Yankees needed the schedule break to get the celebration out of their system and relax before the July 4 weekend.

In a strange bit of scheduling, the Red Sox returned to Philadelphia for the second time in a week to start a three-game series with the A's. (Possibly Philly was always scheduled home for Independence Day since The City of Brotherly Love hosted the Continental Congress that produced the Declaration of Independence.)

  • Lefty Grove, hurling at his old stomping ground, Shibe Park, gained win 299 with a complete game 10-hitter, 5-2.
  • Ted clouted a HR and single in four ABs to move up a point to .403.

Writers speculated whether DiMaggio could win the Triple Crown.

  • Joe led the league in HRs by one over teammate Charlie Keller and Bob Johnson of Philadelphia.
  • DiMaggio also topped the AL in runs (not a Triple Crown category) with 68, one ahead of both Williams and Dom DiMaggio of Boston. (Dom was tied for the league lead in doubles with Lou Boudreau of Cleveland.)
  • The Yankee CF ranked second in RBIs with 65, four behind Keller.
  • The major problem was that Joe's .348 average trailed Williams by 55 points.

A United Press story that day offered sympathy to Williams for being overshadowed by DiMaggio.

UP Story - AUP Story - B
DiMaggio Streak: Friday, July 4, 1941 - Rainout

The Yankees lost a large crowd when their Independence Day doubleheader with Washington was rained out.

  • Since the Senators moved on to Boston for a series the next day, the games would have to be made up the next time Washington came to Yankee Stadium.
  • Boston's doubleheader in Philadelphia also fell victim to the elements.
At each park where baseball was played, the game was halted so that everyone could hear the brief Independence Day radio address of President Franklin Roosevelt piped into the PA system.
  • The president denounced isolationism and urged people to overcome their fears of involvement in the war in Europe should that become necessary. He called for national unity.
  • Then Chief Justice Harlan Stone led the pledge of allegiance.

Eddie Brietz in a sports dispatch from New York printed in newspapers across America that day:

That $3,000 that kept Joe DiMaggio and the Yanks apart so long last Spring probably will be given Joe as a bonus for his hitting streak. (After all, he drew 50,000 customers to the Stadium on a Tuesday and [GM] Ed Barrow can't laugh that off.)

Unbeknownst to Joe, a song was being produced about him.

  • Les Brown, leader of the three-year-old "Band of Renown," liked to talk to the audience during the band's performances. And lately he spoke about DiMaggio.
  • The band was wrapping up a two-week gig at the Strand Theatre in Manhattan. They would move to the Log Cabin in Armonk, an hour north of NYC, where WEAF broadcast the performances live over the radio.
  • Brown's band had embarked on several successful tours but had never created a big hit song that would attract the attention reserved for the orchestras of Benny Goodman, Harry James, and Tommy Dorsey.
  • Alan Courtney, a disc jockey/songwriter proposed doing a song about DiMaggio.
  • Les liked the idea and hooked up Courtney with an arranger named Ben Homer. Brown wanted something simple and accessible that people could dance to.
  • Eventually, the song was recorded and swept the nation after the streak ended, as is reflected in the lyrics sung by Betty Bonney.

Hello Joe, whatta you know?
We need a hit so here I go.
Ball one (Yea!)
Ball two (Yea!)
Strike one (Booo!)
Strike two (Kill that umpire!)
A case of Wheaties

He started baseball's famous streak
That's got us all aglow.
He's just a man and not a freak,
Joltin' Joe DiMaggio.

Joe, Joe DiMaggio,
We want you on our side.

He tied the mark at forty-four
July the 1st you know.
Since then he's hit a good twelve more,
Joltin' Joe DiMaggio.

Joe, Joe DiMaggio,
We want you on our side.

From coast to coast that's all you'll hear
Of Joe, the one man show.
He's glorified the horsehide sphere,
Joltin' Joe DiMaggio.

Joe, Joe DiMaggio,
We want you on our side.

He'll live in baseball's Hall of Fame.
He got there blow by blow.
Our kids will tell their kids his name,
Joltin' Joe DiMaggio.

We dream of Joey with the light brown plaque.
Joe, Joe DiMaggio,
We want you on our side.

And now they speak in whispers low
Of how they stopped our Joe
One night in Cleveland Oh Oh Oh.
Goodbye streak, DiMaggio.

Listen to "Joltin' Joe DiMaggio"

Major events that day: Latvian partisans shot 416 Jews dead. The Politburo of the Yugoslav communist party reorganized.

Reference: 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports, Kostya Kennedy (2011)

Bandleader Les Brown
Les Brown

Singer Betty Bonney
Betty Bonney

Previous Games

Phil Marchilden, Athletics P
Phil Marchildon


DiMaggio Kisses Bat
DiMaggio Kissing Record-Breaking Bat

Previous Games

Saturday, July 5, 1941 - Game 46

The Yankees began a three-game home series with the Philadelphia Athletics before the All-Star break.

  • After being deluged with fan mail for several days - some delivered to his home and some to Yankee Stadium - Joe was happy to return to action after two days of idleness.
  • He would be able to use the bat that had been stolen in Washington. Jerry Spatola and his friend Peanuts had tracked it to a guy in Lyndhurst NJ. They didn't volunteer details of the rescue, and Joe followed an early version of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

The saga that not even a Hollywood scriptwriter would dream up continued.

  • Facing sidearm-submarine righty Phil Marchildon, Joe walloped the first pitch into the Yankee bullpen in LCF. Coach John Schulte caught it on the fly. Needless to say, the crowd of 19,977 roared their approval.
  • It was Joe's only hit in 4 ABs in the 10-7 New York triumph that kept them 2 games ahead of the Indians.
Marchildon would win 17 games for Connie Mack in 1942 before joining the Air Force in his native Canada.

  • He served as a tailgunner in a bomber squadron in the 1944 D-Day invasion.
  • Later, his plane was shot down over the English Channel, and he spent the rest of the war in the infamous German prison camp Stalag Luft III depicted in the movie "The Great Escape."
  • Having lost one-third of his weight and suffering from what today would be diagnosed as Post-Traumatic-Stress Disorder, he was liberated in 1945.
  • Phil rejoined the A's the following year. Amazingly, he won 19 games in 1947.
  • Add him to the list of players, topped by Bob Feller and Ted Williams, whose careers were severely curtailed by World War II.

After the game, DiMag autographed the bat he used to hit the homer that broke Keeler's record.

  • A United Airlines stewardess witnessed the autograph and hand delivered the bat to San Francisco, Joe's hometown.
  • The bat would be raffled off at the Seals doubleheader the next day to benefit the USO, an organization whose mission is to lift the spirits of America’s troops and their families.
  • Joe wired money to buy 100 of the 25-cent tickets. He sent a telegram that said, "If I win it, raffle it over again." He also expressed gratitude. "Tell all my friends I am appreciative of the hundreds of telegrams and air mail letters sent to me in the past several days."
  • Joe's parents would present the bat to the winner. The raffle raised $1,678.

In Boston, the Red Sox defeated the Senators 5-0. Ted had a double in 3 ABs to put his average at .402.

References: 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports, Kostya Kennedy (2011)
"The Phil Marchildon Story," mopupduty.com
Game 47 - Sunday, July 6, 1941 - Game One

The previous Tuesday, the largest crowd of the season, 53,832, turned out for the doubleheader against Boston.

  • That record lasted only five days (due in part to the rainout of the July 4 doubleheader) as 60,948 packed Yankee Stadium.
  • The oppressive heat of the past week had abated somewhat. Perhaps that helped the crowd somewhat but the vast majority would have turned out anyway to witness what, even then, was regarded as one of the most amazing feats in the annals of sports.

The lines formed hours before the gates opened. A picture of Lou Gehrig adorned each ticket because the Yankee 1B, who had died June 2, was being honored.

  • Both teams gathered in CF before the first game. Lou's widow, Eleanor, stood next to the monument as Dickey and McCarthy lifted the American flag draped over the granite block. Lou's parents sat behind the Yankees dugout.
  • Mayor Fiorello La Guardia gave a brief eulogy. "He will be remembered as long as baseball remains." Connie Mack, the A's manager throughout Gehrig's career, urged "the army of youths of America to follow in his footsteps." Dickey called Lou "the greatest 1B and pal in the history of the game." Then he broke down and couldn't continue.

As if inspired by the memory of his fallen teammate, DiMaggio had a fantastic day.

  • He cracked four hits in Game One, two off Johnny Babich, Joe's victim on June 28, and two off Bump Hadley, including a 2B.
  • Joe also played his usual spectacular CF. One reporter said that, of the 10 catches he made in the twinbill, "no less than eight" were "breathtaking." In Game One, he made a leaping catch in deep CF to take a triple away from Bob Johnson.
  • The Yanks doubled the visitors, 8-4.
DiMaggio hitting on July 6
DiMaggio hitting on July 6

Reference: 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports, Kostya Kennedy (2011)




Lou Gehrig Monument
Gehrig Monument at Yankee Stadium

Bump Hadley, Athletics

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P Jack Knott, Athletics
Jack Knott

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Game 48 - Sunday, July 6, 1941 - Game Two

The "rain-splattered" nightcap was a tighter game against Jack Knott of the A's.

  • Joe delivered a triple and a single, driving in two. The 6-for-9 day raised his average to .357.
  • In the ninth, DiMaggio robbed Johnson again. Sloshing through the wet grass just fast enough (Joe rarely dove for a ball in his career), DiMag snared the long clout over his shoulder near the Gehrig monument unveiled earlier in the afternoon.
  • The 3-1 victory was the Yanks' ninth in a row. They led Cleveland by 3 1/2 games. As recently as June 12, New York had been 4 behind.
  • Afterwards, McCarthy gushed, "DiMaggio is the greatest ballplayer in the game."

At Fenway Park, the Red Sox swept the Senators, 6-2 and 4-3.

  • Williams had a single and an RBI in 4 ABs in the opener, dropping his average to .399, under the magic .400 mark for the first time since May 24.
  • He bounced back in the nightcap with two doubles and a single in four tries. He had a hand in all the BoSox runs, driving in two and scoring two.
  • His average leaped to .405 to lead the league by 34 points over Jeff Heath of Cleveland. (DiMaggio ranked fifth.)
  • Boston closed the first half of the season with a four-game win streak, good for third place, 7 1/2 behind the Yankees.
References: 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports, Kostya Kennedy (2011)
Monday, July 7, 1941 - All-Star Break

Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, and the other AL and NL all-stars, including Dom DiMaggio, traveled to Detroit for the nine annual Midsummer Classic.

  • The game was undoubtedly the most anticipated one since the initial contest in 1933.
  • The chief attraction was DiMaggio and his unprecedented 48-game hitting streak. Fans wanted to know whether the All-Star game counted as far as The Streak was concerned. The answer, of course, was no. The classic was an exhibition game that did not count in the standings. So getting a hit in the game would not add to Joe's streak nor would going hitless end it.
  • Still, Joe wanted get a hit in this game. If he didn't, naysayers would claim that the streak really ended in Detroit even if he extended it much further when regular play resummed. Plus, Joe knew that the 50,000+ that would jam Briggs Stadium were not just coming to see him and the other stars play but would be there to see him get a hit. So he felt as much pressure to perform as he had in passing Sisler and Keeler in recent weeks.
  • Additional talk centered around Ted and his fantastic .405 average.

The previous eight All-Star Games produced these results.

Comiskey Park, Chicago
Polo Grounds, New York
Municipal Stadium, Cleveland
Braves Field, Boston
Griffith Stadium, Washington
Crosley Field, Cincinnati
Yankee Stadium, New York
Sportsman's Park, St. Louis

Three of the games were already enshrined in baseball lore.

  • 1933: Fittingly, the one-and-only Babe Ruth hit the first HR in All-Star Game history.
  • 1934: Carl Hubbell of the New York Giants struck out five AL All-Stars in a row in the first and second innings.
  • 1937: NL starter Dizzy Dean suffered a broken toe when hit by a line drive off the bat of Earl Averill. Dizzy returned to action before the toe was fully healed. As a result, he altered his delivery and permanently hurt his arm. He lost his blazing fastball and labored on several more years with the Cubs as a change-of-speed artist.

Fans anticipated another exciting contest but had no idea that the 1941 game would also live forever in baseball history.

Following the same rule in effect today, the previous year's pennant-winning skippers managed the teams.

  • Del Baker of the host Tigers named Bob Feller of Cleveland as his starter.
  • NL manager Bill McKechnie of Cincinnati hoped to start Brooklyn's Whitlow Wyatt if he felt better on game day.

The following article was sent on the wires Monday for the Tuesday newspapers. The writer has an interesting take on the motivation for Joe's great play.

NEA Service Sports Editor
NEW YORK, July 8.—Joe DiMaggio's record-breaking consecutive-game hitting streak netted the Yankees more than $75,000, not to mention the other clubs. It will be worth vastly more than that before the last shot is fired, for there is every evidence that it has put the New Yorks on the high road to another world series with rich gates all along the route.
Yankees once more are baseball's most magnetic attraction. DiMaggio the biggest individual draw.
Philadelphia had a gathering of 8107 on a Friday, which is practically phenomenal, and 13,604 on Saturday.
No fewer than 31,000 watched DiMaggio tie George Sisler's modem mark of 41 in the first half of a Sunday double-header in Washington and crack it in the nightcap.
Upward of 60,000 rooted for him as he propped up Wee Willie Keeler's all-time top of 44 in a double-header with the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. The following afternoon he belted it out of the books with a towering home run into the left field stand.
DiMaggio's skein probably was responsible for half the attendance. Without DiMaggio, the Yankees would have been just another club meeting the requirements of the schedule.
DiMaggio's tremendous and successful bid for immortality gave the New Yorks the spirit of a college football team.
Yankees pulled for DiMaggio to come through and came through with their bell cow. They stepped the stroke up to an .833 clip . . . passed the Clevelands and took the lead like Whirlaway heading for home.
Important also is the fact that DiMaggio, who was on the phlegmatic side, is now an inspired ball player. Great as he has been [there were] times when you felt that added incentive would make him do just what he is doing at the moment. This came in Mrs. DiMaggio's jubilance in her Joe's drive and their expectant heir. Joe DiMaggio really became interested in his work.
That was too bad for opposing pitchers. Big Boy was tough enough when he took things in stride.

Babe Ruth after HR in 1933 All-Star Game
Babe Ruth greeted by Lou Gehrig after hitting HR in 1933 All-Star Game




Brief video with highlights of first two All-Star Games

















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1941 All-Star Game Program Cover

Yankee All-Stars 1941
Yankee All-Stars: (L-R) "Red" Ruffing, Joe Gordon, Bill Dickey, Charlie Keller, Joe DiMaggio

AL Starter Bob Feller
AL starter Bob Feller

Arky Vaughn, Pirates
Almost-hero Arky Vaughn

Williams' Last AB, 1941 All-Star Game
Williams in his last AB

Wiliams after Game-winning HR
Joe greets Ted after the game-winning HR.

DiMaggio Rejoices with Ted after Game

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Tuesday, July 8, 1941 - All-Star Game

The ninth major league All Star game ranks as one of the most famous and exciting. With Pearl Harbor almost exactly five months in the future, this was the last mid-summer classic before World War II wreaked havoc on baseball for four seasons.

The starting lineups, as voted by the fans with the pitchers and reserves selected by the managers, read like this.

National League
American League
Stan Hack
Chicago Cubs
Bobby Doerr
Boston Red Sox
Terry Moore
St. Louis Cardinals
Cecil Travis
Washington Senators
Pete Reiser
Brooklyn Dodgers
Joe DiMaggio
New York Yankees
Johnny Mize
St. Louis Cardinals
Ted Williams
Boston Red Sox
Bill Nicholson
Chicago Cubs
Jeff Heath
Cleveland Indians
Arky Vaughn
Pittsburgh Pirates
Joe Cronin
Boston Red Sox
Lonny Frey
Cincinnati Reds
Rudy York
Detroit Tigers
Mickey Owen
Brooklyn Dodgers
Bill Dickey
New York Yankees
Whitlow Wyatt
Brooklyn Dodgers
Bob Feller
Cleveland Indians

Detroit fans were happy to have Rudy York in the lineup but missed their perennial All Star and the game's highest-paid player, Hank Greenberg, who, on May 7, became the first major leaguer inducted into the Army.

Before the game, Joe was the center of attention.

  • All-Stars from both leagues offered congratulations and best wishes. As if he were a fan or a member of the media, Williams snapped pictures of DiMag taking batting practice. "I've been down on myself, but I've never heard of Joe getting unsettled," Ted said.
  • When DiMaggio came to the plate in the first, the fans cheered long and loud. He popped out but would get a hit later in the game to give historians no chance to denigrate any continuation of his streak beyond its current 48-game mark.
  • He and Ted were among the few who remained in the lineup the entire game. That strategy paid dividends for the AL in the late innings.

Briggs Stadium for 1941 All-Star Game
55,000 packed Briggs Stadiuim for the game.

Pitching dominated the first six innings.

  • Wyatt pitched two scoreless innings, then Cincinnati's Paul Derringer allowed a run in his two frames when Williams' drive was misplayed into a double.
  • Another Redleg, Bucky Walters, gave up a second run in the 6th on a single by Cleveland's Lou Boudreau after two walks.
  • Meanwhile, Feller pitched three scoreless innings, giving up one hit while striking out four. Then Thornton Lee of the White Sox pitched the middle three, allowing only one tally on a SF by Moore.

The hitters erupted in the final three innings.

  • The NL forged ahead in the top of the 7th on a two-run homer by Vaughn off Sid Hudson of the Senators, then added two more in the 8th on another Vaughn homer against Eddie Smith of the White Sox.
  • The AL tallied a run in the eighth off Claude Passeau of the Cubs when Dom DiMaggio singled in his brother Joe, who had doubled. If there had been an All Star MVP in those days (the award didn't begin until 1962), Vaughn would have won hands down at this point. But as Yogi Berra later said, "It ain't over 'til it's over."

In an era when the term "closer" hadn't been invented, Passeau returned to the mound to protect a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the ninth.

  • He got Frankie Hayes (A's C) to popout, but Ken Keltner (Cleveland 3B) singled off the chest of the Boston Bees' Eddie Miller, who just replaced Vaughn at SS.
  • Joe Gordon (New York 2B) singled Keltner to second. Travis walked to load the bases.
  • DiMaggio came up with a chance to be the hero but, on an 0-and-2 pitch, forced Travis at second for the second out as Keltner scored. Joe hustled to first to beat the relay and prolong the game.
  • This brought up Williams. Today, the NL manager would bring in a lefty to get the last out. But Bill McKechnie left Passeau on the hill despite his ineffectiveness. On a 2-1 pitch, Ted homered "against the tip-top of the RF stands" (to quote Red Barber's radio call) to win the game 7-5. (Watch a video of the winning homer and notice Ted's excitement as he rounds the bases.)

If DiMaggio was the center of attention before the game, Williams had the spotlight afterwards.

  • The hero said, "I've never been so happy. Halfway down to first, seeing that ball going out, I stopped running and started leaping and jumping and clapping my hands, and I was so happy I laughed out loud."
  • AL manager Del Baker: "I'd kiss that Williams in the public square if they'd ask me!"
  • AL President Will Harridge vigorously shook Ted's hand.
  • Joe sat next to Williams for a moment and put his right arm across Ted's back and, as the picture shows, seems to be giving him a modern-day fist bump.
  • In response to a question about his streak, Joe replied, "I will probably be relieved when someone stops me. I want to keep it going for as long as I can."

19 future Hall-of-Famers adorned the rosters for the 1941 classic:

  • Nationals 9: Billy Herman, Carl Hubbell, Al Lopez (inducted as a manager), Bill McKechnie (manager), "Ducky" Medwick, Johnny Mize, Mel Ott, Enos Slaughter, Arky Vaughan
  • Americans 10: Luke Appling, Lou Boudreau, Joe Cronin, Bill Dickey, Joe DiMaggio, Bobby Doerr, Bob Feller, Jimmy Foxx, Red Ruffing, Ted Williams

Reference: 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports, Kostya Kennedy (2011)

Wednesday, July 9, 1941 - All-Star Break

DiMaggio and his four All-Star teammates traveled to St. Louis where the Yankees would begin another western swing. Williams, Dom DiMaggio, and the other Red Sox All-Stars stayed in Detroit where they began a series on Thursday.

People were still talking about Ted's winning HR on Tuesday.

  • Gerry Moore wrote in his column:

Hardened veterans and more publicized stars like Joe DiMaaggio, Bob Feller, Joe Cronin, and Jimmie Foxx were suddenly transformed into boyish hero worshippers while curly-headed Ted slowly trotted ... around the bases.

  • After pitching the first three innings, Feller returned to the bench in street clothes to root his league to victory. After Ted's clout, Bob ran on the field leaping in tribute to a ballplayer who had just created what everyone sensed was a legendary moment.

Still basking in the glow of his Moment in the Sun, Ted was one of the last to leave the clubhouse.

  • No cabs remained outside the stadium. However, a man with a young boy in the car gave him a lift to the hotel.
  • After keeping quiet most of the way, Ted could contain himself no longer. "Say, I'm Ted Williams. Did you know the American League won the ball game today?"
  • "Nope," said the driver. "Don't follow baseball."
  • Obviously, Ted told the story on himself, else it would have been lost to history.

The standings in the two leagues looked like this as play resumed on Thursday.

American League
National League
New York Yankees
  Brooklyn Dodgers
Cleveland Indians
  St. Louis Cardinals
Boston Red Sox
  New York Giants
Chicago White Sox
  Cincinnati Reds
Detroit Tigers
  Pittsburgh Pirates
Philadelphia A's
  Chicago Cubs
St. Louis Browns
  Boston Bees
Washington Senators
  Philadelphia Phillies

Reference: Ted Williams, a Baseball Life, Michael Seidel (1990)

P Claude Passeau, Cubs
The pitcher who have up Williams' game-winning HR







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George Sislter after retirement
George Sisler

P Johnny Niggeling, Browns
Johnny Niggeling

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Thursday, July 10, 1941 - Game 49

The opener of the three game series in St. Louis was one of the seven night games the Browns, like all teams with lights, were allowed to have by the short-sighted owners (many of whom vowed never to have lights in their parks). The club advertised the event like this. (Note the start time.)

Will Seek To Hit Safely In His
Consecutive Game.
Thur. Nite, July 10
Browns vs. Yankees
Sportsman's Park - 8:30 P.M.

Advanced ticket sales were reportedly the best for any Browns game so far that season. The five night games scheduled across the majors were the most to that point in baseball history.

The morning of the game, DiMaggio had breakfast with George Sisler, the previous AL record holder with 41 straight for the Browns.

  • Sisler congratulated Joe on his streak in person as he had done by telegram when Joe broke the record in Washington.
  • George participated in a ceremony at home plate before the game. "I hope Joe makes it 49 but with nothing more than a single," the greatest Brown told the audience of 12,682.
  • Although slim compared to what Joe drew in other cities, the attendance was three times the average nighttime crowd for the team that generally ranked at the bottom of both leagues in attendance. That was why the owners were preparing to move the club to Los Angeles.

Joe wasted little time in granting Sisler's wish.

  • DiMaggio hit the second pitch from Johnny Niggeling in the first inning between SS and 3B for a single.
  • It was a good thing he got his hit out of the way. Lightning began flashing in the third inning. By the bottom of the sixth, the rain fell in sheets.
  • After a half hour with no letup, the umpires called the game. The run the Yanks pushed across in the third was all they needed to secure their tenth straight victory.
  • Lefty Gomez had to pitch only the requisite five innings to obtain his seventh victory.
  • Would the umpires have called the game so quickly if Joe hadn't gotten a hit yet?

Rain in Detroit washed out the Red Sox-Tigers game.

  • Showing his dedication, Williams talked some of his teammates into taking batting practice when the skies cleared.
  • Ted's Pacific Coast League manager, Frank Shellenback, was at the park, and the frisky young hitter longed for a chance to hit the famous spitball, which Frank threw in the majors over 20 years earlier. Shellenback, in his early 40s, agreed to toss up a few wet ones.
  • Williams watched a few go by before proclaiming, "Hell, they can keep that pitch outlawed." Then he proceeded to knock a half dozen or so into the seats.

Died that day: Jazz pianist "Jelly Roll" Morton

References: 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports, Kostya Kennedy (2011)
Ted Williams, a Baseball Life, Michael Seidel (1990)

Friday, July 11, 1941 - Game 50

The field was still wet in places the next afternoon after the rains that shortened the game the previous evening. A mere 1,162 showed up in Sportsman's Park to watch DiMaggio go for 50.

  • He again removed all suspense by singling in the first inning against Bob Harris.
  • This time, though, Joe wasn't finished. He added two more one-baggers off Harris, then belted his league-leading 20th HR in the 9th off New Orleanian Jack Kramer.
  • Joe's average leaped to .365 as the Yanks won their 11th in a row, 6-2.

In Detroit, Bobo Newsom shut out the Red Sox, 2-0, to keep Lefty Grove from winning his 300th.

  • Not capitalizing on any momentum from his All-Star Game HR, Williams went 0-for-4. His average dropped to .398.
  • Sometimes, Ted let a bad day at the plate affect his fielding. After the game, manager Joe Cronin talked to Ted within earshot of some writers about his lackadaisical play in the OF. Cronin knew how Grove despised poor support from his fielders. Lefty was famous for the many occasions when he tore up a locker room and berated players after losses, particularly ones caused by sloppy play behind him.

Reference: Ted Williams, a Baseball Life, Michael Seidel (1990)

P Bob Harris, St. Louis Browns
Bob Harris

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Browns OF Wally Judnich
Wally Judnich

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Saturday, July 12, 1941 - Game 51

A pitiful Saturday crowd of 2,841 watched DiMaggio continue his assault on Browns pitching.

  • Facing sidearmer Elden Auker for the fourth time in The Streak, Joe smacked a fourth inning RBI double over the head of CF Wally Judnich. DiMag added a single off Bob Muncrief to finish 2-for-5.
  • The Yankees made it 12 in a row, 7-5.
  • "DiMaggio is liable to go on indefinitely," proclaimed his manager.

At Briggs Stadium, Williams suffered a setback.

  • Hustling after a ball in the OF following his manager's admonition the day before, Ted injured his already sore ankle.
  • When he gave way to Stan Spence in LF, Williams was 0-for-1 with 3 BB and 2 runs scored.
  • The Red Sox bested the Tigers 7-5.
  • Ted sat out the second game of the doubleheader. Today, his status would be characterized as "day to day."

References: 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports, Kostya Kennedy (2011)
Ted Williams, a Baseball Life, Michael Seidel (1990)

Sunday, July 13, 1941 1st Game - Game 52

DiMaggio and his Traveling Road Show, otherwise known as the New York Yankees, arrived in Chicago for a four-game series, starting with a Sunday doubleheader.

  • A crowd of 50,387 jammed Comiskey Park. It was the third attendance of over 50K for a Yankee game in July.
  • The White Sox starter in the opener was 40-year-old Ted Lyons, a native of Lake Charles LA. Joe respected the future Hall of Famer, but today the 19-year ML veteran was no match for the Yankee juggernaut.
  • Joe got two singles off Lyons plus another off Jack Hallett in 4 ABs in the 8-1 romp.

In Cleveland, Williams nursed his injured ankle in the dugout as the Red Sox dropped the first game of their doubleheader 9-6.

P Ted Lyons, White Sox
Ted Lyons

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Boston Manager Joe Cronin
Joe Cronin

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Sunday, July 13, 1941 2nd Game - Game 53

The second game of the Yankees-White Sox twinbill produced a tight pitching duel.

  • Southpaw Thornton Lee of Chicago and righty Red Ruffing matched goose eggs for nine innings and beyond.
  • The Yankees finally broke the ice in the 11th to win their 13th in a row, 1-0.
  • The crowd came to life every time the field announcer lifted his megaphone along the 3B line to announce, "Now batting for the Yankees, Joe DiMaggio."
  • Joe managed a solid single to RCF off Lee to make the Windy City fans happy.

At Municipal Stadium, Williams sat out the second game, which the Indians won 2-1 in 11 to sweep the doubleheader. Manager Cronin hoped Ted could do some pinch-hitting soon.

References: 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports, Kostya Kennedy (2011)
Ted Williams, a Baseball Life, Michael Seidel (1990)

Monday, July 14, 1941 - Game 54

Joe was now chasing a 61-game streak in the Pacific Coast League in 1933 by an 18-year-old outfielder for the San Francisco Seals. The rookie's name? Joe DiMaggio

The series at Comiskey Park continued.

  • Johnny Rigney, who had avoided military induction after all because of a broken eardrum, faced the Yankees for the fourth time during The Streak.
  • Leading off the second, DiMaggio broke his bat on a 3-2 fastball in on his hands as he lifted a fly to short CF that 2B Billy Knickerbocker dropped. The Chicago scorer ruled it an error to the protests of some of the Yankees. Joe's ruined bat was the one that had been stolen in Washington and not returned for four games.
  • In the fourth, Rigney walked DiMag, drawing the wrath of the crowd of 8,025. When he went 2-0 on #5 in the sixth, the boos got louder. Joe swung at the next pitch with his new bat and drove it into the ground in front of the plate. The spheroid bounced, then dribbled down the line. 3B Bob Kennedy had no play. When you're trying to extend a streak, an infield hit counts as much as a homer.
  • The White Sox resoundingly ended New York's 14-game winning streak, 7-1.

In Cleveland, Bob Feller beat the Red Sox 4-1 to run his record to 18-4. Ted missed his third straight game with a sore ankle.

Les Brown's Joltin' Joe DiMaggio was now being broadcast from the Band of Renown's live remotes. The lyrics changed to reflect the number of games in The Streak.

Reference: 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports, Kostya Kennedy (2011)

Bob Kennedy, White Sox
Bob Kennedy

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Tuesday, July 15, 1941 - Game 55

A slightly larger Chicago crowd of 8,680 watched the Yankees regain their winning ways.

  • DiMaggio singled and doubled off "chubby" lefthander Edgar Smith in 4 ABs with 2 RBIs and 1 R.
  • The Yankees jumped out 5-1 after three innings and held on 5-4.

The Red Sox, without Williams again, salvaged the last of the four games with the Indians, 6-2. That put Cleveland five behind as they prepared to host the Yankees.

Wednesday, July 16, 1941 - Game 56

Cleveland played the first of the crucial three-game series with the Yankees at old League Park, where the club played almost all its weekday contests.

  • A crowd of 15,000, an outstanding attendance for a Wednesday game that Feller didn't pitch, saw the visitors coast 15-3 to move 6 games ahead of the Tribe.
  • DiMaggio wasted no time extending the streak. He smacked southpaw Al Milner's first pitch for a solid single up the middle. Later, he blooped a single to CF in front of Roy Weatherly, who would be described as stationed "almost on the warning track" if there were such a thing in 1941. Joe finished with a 400' double to LCF off Joe Krakauskas. Along the way, DiMag scored all the way from second on an infield hit.
  • The next game of the Series would be under the lights at big Municipal Stadium on the Erie Lakefront.
DiMaggio Hits in Game 56
DiMaggio hits in Game 56 at League Park

In Chicago, Williams pinch-hit in the ninth and drove in the winning run with an out in the 2-1 Boston victory.

Pitcher Al Smith, Indians
Al Smith

3B Ken Keltner, Indians
Ken Keltner

Pitcher Jim Bagby Jr., Indians
Jim Bagby, Jr.

SS Lou Boudreau, Indians
Lou Boudreau

P Johnny Murphy, Yankees
Johnny Murphy

Roy Weatherly, Indians
Roy Weatherly

DiMaggio Streak Ends

Video of Joe in action to the tune of "Joltin' Joe DiMaggio"

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Thursday, July 17, 1941 - The Streak Ends

DiMaggio and his roommate Lefty Gomez, the starter that night, took a taxi to Municipal Stadium for the game expected to pack the largest park in the majors.

  • The cabbie recognized his passengers and told Joe, "I've got a strange feeling in my bones that you're going to get stopped tonight. I hope you keep the streak going for a hundred games, I do. But I feel like you're not going to get a hit tonight."
  • Joe said nothing, but Lefty reacted angrily and told the driver to shut up and just drive.
  • When they stepped out at the players' gate, Gomez told his pal, "Creep tried to jinx you!" Joe just shrugged. The cab ride cost them 20 cents.

Rain that fell earlier in the day left the grass wet but didn't dampen the crowd.

  • The stands began filling up even during batting practice.
  • The official attendance would be 67,463, the largest crowd to attend a game that season and the largest to attend a night game ever to that point.

Al Smith started for the Indians, the first time he had faced the Yanks during The Streak.

  • The skinny southpaw mixed his curveball, changeup, and screwball with a fair fastball.
  • Since he rarely got excited about anything, teammates called him "Silent Al."

Smith got a great deal of assistance from the All-Star at the hot corner.

  • Known for his quick reflexes, Ken Keltner usually played hitters alongside the bag, closer than any other third-sacker in the league. However, tonight he played DiMaggio deep and near the line.
  • In his first plate appearance, Joe smashed a 1-and-0 curveball on the ground down the 3B line over the bag. Keltner stabbed the ball backhanded and threw from foul territory just in time to nip the batter. When the half inning ended, Ken received strong applause as he entered the dugout.
  • Smith walked DiMaggio on a 3-and-2 curveball the next time around, drawing boos from the audience, most of whom wanted the home team to win but hoped Joe would extend The Streak.
  • As the game progressed, a mist from Lake Erie mixed with the cigarette smoke from the stands to create an eerie feeling under the lights.
  • In the seventh, Joe duplicated his first at-bat. He swung at a first pitch curve and pulled it down the line. Keltner again grabbed the smash and threw out Joe by less than a step.
  • The next inning, DiMaggio strode to the plate with one out and the bases loaded. Indian manager Peckinpaugh called in right-hander Jim Bagby Jr. Jim threw a much better fastball than Smith and liked to keep it down.
  • With the count two-and-one, Joe swung at a sinking fastball and rapped another hard grounder. This one went to SS Lou Boudreau. Just before it reached him, the ball took a bad hop, like the one that bounced off Appling's shoulder in Game 30 to extend the streak. But Lou grabbed the ball at his shoulder and started a short-second-first double play.
  • DiMaggio, as usual, showed no reaction. After crossing first, he jogged toward shallow CF where he picked up his glove and continued to his position. He didn't kick the dirt or pound his fist into his glove.

Joe almost got another chance.

  • Trailing 4-1 in the bottom of the ninth, the Indians put the first two men on. McCarthy called in reliever Johnny Murphy to replace Gomez.
  • PH Larry Rosenthal tripled to make the score 4-3 with the tying run on third and nobody out. Even the most casual fan knew that if Cleveland scored just one more run, DiMaggio might come up again in extra innings.
  • Murphy got a ground out to 1B Johnny Sturm with the runner of third holding.
  • The next batter, Soup Campbell, bounced to the mound, and the runner on third got hung up and tagged out.
  • Roy Weatherly (who had played three seasons for the New Orleans Pelicans) grounded out to Sturm to end the game and The Streak.

DiMaggio kept his impassive facade into the clubhouse.

  • He took off his cap and tossed his glove into his locker as the other players stood clear.
  • Joe sat down on his stool. "Well, that's over."
  • At that, the players threw towels at him and tossed gloves in the air to celebrate The Streak.

To reporters, Joe named Keltner as the villain.

  • "I can't say I'm glad that it's over. Of course I wanted to go on as long as I could. But Smith and Bagby didn't break my string. The guy who turned the trick was that Keltner. He was a little rough on me."
  • Years later, DiMag revealed some bitterness about the way Ken played him: "Deep? My God, he was standing in left field."
  • "Sure Keltner broke his string," barked Manager Joe McCarthy."Now Joe is going to start another one and break his own record." Marse Joe turned out to be half right - DiMaggio did start another streak the next day.

In the Indians clubhouse, Keltner deflected his teammates' congratulations.

  • "We lost the game, didn't we? There's nothing to congratulate me about."
  • When Ken and his wife exited the stadium, a crowd had gathered - some happy, some angry. Several policemen escorted the couple to their car.
  • One Indian disappointed that DiMaggio gone hitless was Bob Feller. Although he said nothing at the time, Rapid Robert had hoped to be the one to end The Streak the next day.

Fans still mingled an hour after the game.

  • Joe smoked several cigarettes and lingered until almost everyone had left. He asked Phil Rizzuto to stick around.
  • After his shower, Joe dressed himself impeccably as always. More than two hours after the last out, he and Phil left. By that time, no one was around.
  • They walked in silence until they reached a small bar and grill. Joe reached in his pocket and realized he had left his wallet in the locker room safe. So he borrowed $18 from Scooter.
  • As Phil started to follow him inside, Joe told him to go on and entered the restaurant alone.

Not that many people noticed, but the Red Sox beat the White Sox 7-4 in Chicago as Ted Williams sat out again.

References: 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports, Kostya Kennedy (2011); Baseball in '41, Robert W. Creamer (1991)


Noteworthy Games

Game 44 - Joe Ties Keeler

Game 45 - New Record!

Games 47-48 - Spectacular Doubleheader

All-Star Game

Games 52-53 - Doubleheader in Chicago

The Streak Ends


Games 1-11

Games 12-26

Games 27-42


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