Games: 41 & 42, June 29, 1941
Joe DiMaggio owned the batter’s box. Always had, ever since playing North Beach sandlot ball a decade before.
He was almost regal in stance.
Back foot gnawing a hole from which to push off, legs spread wide apart, DiMaggio always held his bat a few inches off his shoulder and back. As a pitcher went into his motion, Joe was stock still, back leg bent slightly.
Batters have about a half-second to calculate whether or not to swing at a pitch; .41 seconds if Feller is pitching.
Head still, arms taut, hands squeezing the bat just so (Joe never choked up on the stick)…As the ball approached, the ballet would begin.
First a slight stride, maybe two, three inches with his left foot. A movement of the arms and wrists would fluidly bring the bat with them. As the lumber cut through the air, Joe looking like a hawk as it pounced on its prey, the crack of the bat would provide a clue to the results.
Whether a hit, pop-up or ground out, the swing always looked the same. Graceful, dynamic, Olympian.
“I have always taken that stance since I have been playing ball,” DiMaggio says in the book 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports. “Nobody ever told me to do it that way. It just seemed the natural thing to do.”
On June 29, 1941, George Sisler’s record of 41 straight games with a hit could be caught—and passed. The doubleheader with Washington drew more than the 30,000 capacity of Griffith Stadium.
Despite temperatures pushing 100, Griffith Stadium was alive like no other day.
Crowd control was a problem. Fans flooded the field when DiMaggio took batting practice. They mobbed him when he returned to the dugout. Everyone wanted a little piece of Joe DiMaggio on this special afternoon.
In attitude, the sweltering Joe DiMaggio remained cool.
In a 9-4 opening-game victory, the Yankee Clipper doubled in the sixth inning. Forty-one straight and DiMaggio’s name was there with Gentleman George Sisler.
In the second contest—a 7-5 triumph—Joe hit a line single to left in the third inning. The longest streak in American League history—42—belonged to DiMaggio.
The fans bubbled over! Standing on first, DiMaggio broke character: first a smile, then, twice, he touched his cap in acknowledgment of the crowd’s adulation.
The thunderous ovation resounded for three minutes. The Streak would go on for another three weeks.
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