Joe DiMaggio's Streak, Games 43 and 44: DiMaggio Ties Keeler's Old Standard

JoeDiMaggio.comGuest ColumnistJuly 3, 2011

Joe DiMaggio Hits 44 and breaks record
Joe DiMaggio Hits 44 and breaks record

Games 43 and 44: July 1, 1941

The Boston Red Sox were in town for a Tuesday, July 1, doubleheader with the Bombers. The previous two Tuesday games at Yankee Stadium drew an average of 7,200 fans for St. Louis and Chicago.

But this was Boston. Ted Williams came in hitting .404. Another DiMaggio, Dominic, would be roaming the Red Sox outfield. The Yankees were playing well. The Streak was alive at 42—an American League record.

The stars were aligned for a significant crowd. Yankee officials thought maybe 25,000 would attend Joe DiMaggio’s assault on the all-time record—44 by Willie Keeler for the 1897 Baltimore Orioles (a National League team that dissolved after the 1899 season).

New York City was sweltering. Heat killed two people in Brooklyn earlier in the day. There was a threat of rain. The humidity was energy-sapping.

When 53,832 showed up—in miserable conditions on a work day—the Yankee management was ecstatic.

“Well, Joe earned his salary today,” said one front-office bean counter.

In the first game, a 7-2 Yankee victory, DiMaggio extended his AL mark in the fifth inning—but the crowd didn’t even know it.

Joe DiMaggio Choosing Bat in Dugout, July 1, 1941
Joe DiMaggio Choosing Bat in Dugout, July 1, 1941

DiMaggio had hit a slow roller to third baseman Jim Tabor. When the Red Sox fielder threw over the head of his first baseman, at the same time DiMaggio was arriving at first, most thought Joe had reached on an error.

There is no record of the public-address announcer having made the call to those in the stands; besides, no one would have heard it over the din that day. Official scorer Dan Daniel signaled “hit” to both dugouts, and that was that.

Forty-three straight, and only a select few knew. In fact, because the scribes in the press box were clued in regarding Daniel’s call, word went out over the wire that DiMaggio’s streak was intact. Play-by-play guys at other ballparks told their fans before the Yankee faithful in attendance knew. Radio listeners downtown knew before the stadium crowd.

An inning later, DiMaggio left no doubt with a line drive that Williams recovered in left, holding Joe to another single.

In the second game, Keeler—known as Wee Willie because of his 5'5", 140-pound frame—would have company at 44 in a row.

No suspense this time. A clean, first-inning hit.

As the dark clouds rolled in, it became black as night by the fifth inning of the second game. Rain was in the air. The Yankees were up, 9-2.

Umpire Eddie Rommel called both managers to the plate. In essence, he told them there was nothing left to see here. Game over.

Oh, and Williams? Two-for-six in the twin bill. His average stood at .402. 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.