Game 39: June 27 1941
When Joe DiMaggio retired after the 1951 season at age 36, he was spent, by his own standards.
When he walked away, he was baseball’s highest-paid player and could have come back for another season at $100,000 or more.
But he was no longer the Joe DiMaggio he promised. His shoulder and neck were hurting. Bone spurs in his heel hobbled him. His .263 average was by far the lowest of a career during which he hit .325 lifetime.
He gave three seasons to the Army during World War II and, when on the field, gave 13 seasons to his fans, winning nine championships in 10 World Series appearances.
“There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first or last time. I owe him my best,” Joe told the Sporting News on April 4, 1951.
But 10 years earlier, in the opener of a two-game set with Philadelphia, DiMaggio was still DiMaggio.
Only 8,107 attended the Friday, June 27 contest at Shibe Park. The Athletics were also-rans, nine games off the pace. There would have been fewer people in attendance had not the Great DiMaggio been in town. Two days before, a game with Detroit drew less than 2,000 faithful.
Since the nation’s eyes began to really focus on DiMaggio and the streak, this was the first road game for the Yankees.
With Al “Chubby” Dean toeing the rubber for the A’s, DiMaggio wasted no time in chalking up his 39th consecutive game with a hit. Dean’s first pitch to Joe was lined cleanly to left. A single.
Later in the game, DiMaggio crushed a 450-foot home run off the converted first baseman. But the Yankees lost, 7-6. Few cared about the score. The gift of the day was seeing the 26-year-old DiMaggio keep the streak alive.
When Cleveland won that afternoon, New York fell a game off the pace. It would be the last time the Yankees would lose a game until the middle of July. Come July 13, the Bronx Bombers would be in first place by five games—the pennant race with the Indians, in essence, over.
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