Game 36: June 24, 1941
Bob Muncrief was a strapping country boy from Madill, Oklahoma. The journeyman pitcher, who in 1941 toiled for the lowly St. Louis Browns, is all but forgotten in baseball history.
Muncrief won 80 games in a 12-year career. He lost 82. He grew up in hard times, respected his family and its struggle to survive on a hit-and-miss farm in the middle of the Dust Bowl.
From his minor-league days, the 6'2", 190-pound hurler sent a lion’s share of his paychecks back home. This was a lucky guy, and he knew it. He owed his parents for the chance to play baseball. Muncrief was what they called a Steady Eddie.
On June 24, 1941, Muncrief was facing Joe DiMaggio for the third time during The Streak (he’d see him in four games, allowing the Clipper only three hits).
Despite a 4-0 New York lead, the sparse Yankee Stadium crowd was getting nervous—DiMaggio was 0-for-3 through seven innings.
If it hadn’t been for Muncrief’s sense of fair play, Browns’ manager Luke Sewell would have ended The Streak that Tuesday afternoon.
After Tommy Henrich blasted a two-run homer to ice the game in the eighth, DiMaggio walked to the plate at the exact instant Sewell popped from the dugout and bounded to the mound.
“Walk him, or I’ll take you out of the game,” Sewell promised his pitcher.
Muncrief would have none of it.
“It wasn’t fair,” the big right-hander said years later. “I told Luke I’ll pitch to him, get him out square.”
Muncrief, according to one report, threatened to shake DiMaggio’s hand on the way to the dugout if his manager removed him.
“I just wouldn’t walk him. Besides, I thought I could get him out. I had some luck against Joe that year,” Muncrief told the New York Times in the 1960s.
Muncrief took DiMaggio to a 1-1 count before Joe laced a hanging curveball into left field.
Thirty-six straight games with a hit, and counting—thanks to the integrity of a stand-up guy named Bob Muncrief.
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