Game 34: June 21, 1941
Joe DiMaggio won nine World Championships in 13 big-league seasons. It was an accomplishment of which he was deeply proud.
DiMaggio’s Yankees had won four crowns in his first four years.
But Joltin’ Joe, coming into the 1941 season, was just DiMaggio—another great Yankee who drew constant praise from New York and San Francisco newspapers and fans from around the league.
It took The Streak to turn DiMaggio into an icon; a man whose stature in the sport and in Americana has endured.
Every time now that DiMaggio came to bat—regardless of venue—the crowds would go wild.
June 21, 1941, was no different.
And DiMaggio wasted no time delivering what the 20,000-plus folks came to see on this Saturday afternoon. With New York rookie first baseman Johnny Strum leading off the Yankee first with a walk, Red Rolfe followed with a single. After a Henrich pop-out, DiMaggio solemnly walked to the plate.
As usual, bedlam. As usual, DiMaggio was straight-faced. No reaction. As usual, he was ready to hit.
Dizzy Trout’s first pitch was lined to the outfield, scoring Strum.
“There, that was easy,” thought the cheering Yankee fans. Number 34 and a 1-0 lead. “How many will we get today? Twenty runs?”
But Trout settled in, and when the Tigers scored seven unanswered runs, the 20,000-plus at Yankee Stadium would go home with mixed emotions from a 7-2 loss.
Trout, who didn’t serve during World War II, was a decent pitcher when the majors were at full strength. However, when stars like DiMaggio, Williams and Greenberg went off to war, Trout blossomed against the makeshift lineups.
In 1943, Trout won 20 games. The following season he rang up 27 victories. When the big bats returned by 1946, he was a .500 pitcher again.
Forty years later, former Yankee Billy Martin told a Northern California writer, “If everybody who said they saw DiMaggio play during The Streak actually had…attendance would have been two million a game.”