Game 29: June 16, 1941
Understandably, the Monday, June 16 game with Cleveland drew only 12,552 fans that afternoon. People had to go back to work. Rain also contributed to the small throng. However, those in attendance were on hand for a special treat.
The Yankee record for games in which a player had consecutively hit safely was 29. Joe’s string was at 28.
Ironically, the co-holders of the New York record were in Yankee Stadium that day, participants in the game.
Cleveland manager Roger Peckinpaugh, who as a pinstriped shortstop, established the 29-game standard in 1919 and was joined by Yanks’ first base coach (now Hall of Fame member) Earle Combs, who duplicated the feat 12 years later.
DiMaggio had told friends and family that the Yankees record would be nice to have, but he’d always settle for wins.
Going in with seven consecutive victories and the hit streak intact, DiMaggio was getting the best of both his worlds.
In the game, as the infield pocked with puddles, footing became unstable in the outfield. Umpire Bill Grieve waived the combatants off the field in the fourth, tied 3-3.
DiMaggio is reported to have quietly resided back at his locker during the break. He likely held a cigarette in one hand (he was a spokesman for Camel) and a half cup of java in the other (he was not yet “Mr. Coffee”) as the two teams waited out the storm.
Almost 90 minutes later, the game resumed.
DiMaggio, 0-for-2 when he batted in the fifth, lined an Al Milner pitch to the gap in left for a double. The crowd of 12,000-plus sounded like a sellout as a passive DiMaggio stood at second.
“That’s 29 straight games with a hit, tying a New York Yankee record,” came the announcer’s acknowledgement. Nobody heard it from the cheering. They already knew.
Cleveland would go on to take a late lead, but three Yank runs in the eighth inning would send the Tribe on to Philadelphia with but a one-game advantage in the American League pennant chase.
DiMaggio finished 1-for-5. Could he catch AL record holder George Sisler, who had hit safely in 41 straight games while batting .420 for the St. Louis Browns in 1920?
“Never mind Sisler,” DiMaggio told sportscaster Bob Costas some years later. “I was just thinking about standing alone with the Yankee record.”
He’d have his chance the next day at home with Chicago.
JoeDiMaggio.com is the official and authorized Web site of Joe DiMaggio. During the 70th anniversary of DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, it is publishing “Reliving Joe DiMaggio’s Streak,” which follows the daily progress of Joltin' Joe in 1941. Series Archive
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