​Almanac: Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak


Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees extended his record-breaking hitting streak in Washington, D.C., on June 29, 1941, but on July 17 - after 56 games - he met a brick wall in Cleveland.

Bettmann Archive/Getty

And now a page from our Sunday Morning Almanac, July 17th, 1941, 75 years ago today ... the diamond anniversary of a baseball diamond milestone.

The Yankee Clipper. National Baseball Hall of Fame Library

For that was the day New York Yankee Joe DiMaggio's legendary hitting streak ended at 56 consecutive games.

The streak began on May 15th, with a single against the White Sox.

As game followed game, and hit followed hit, the baseball world began to take notice and to hold its breath at his every at-bat.

On July 2nd, DiMaggio hit safely in his 45th game ... smashing the old record of 44 games set by Willie Keeler 44 years before.

But Joe DiMaggio wasn't through.

He hit in 12 more consecutive games until, on July 17 -- in CLEVELAND, as it happened ... Indians third baseman Ken Keltner snatched a hit from him not once, but TWICE, as DiMaggio would remember in 1991: "I came up the second time, it was a carbon copy -- you couldn't see two balls hit alike. He did the same thing, backhanded, straightened up ... made the long throw ... Got me by the eyelash."

Or, as Keltner himself remembered it: "It wasn't Joe's day."

No matter. Joltin' Joe's feat was celebrated in song that year by the Les Brown Orchestra, and celebrated by generations of fans ever since.

In 75 years, no other player has even come close to DiMaggio's record, let alone broken it.

After retiring at the end of the 1951 season, Joe DiMaggio remained in the public eye, through his headline-making marriage to Marilyn Monroe, as well as his Mr. Coffee commercials.

In 1968 his name figured in a SECOND song, as a brief cryptic lyric in Simon and Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson."

As DiMaggio told "Sunday Morning"'s Robert Lipsyte in 1985: "I still don't know what the song means. I've never understood it fully, and I still don't!"

Joe DiMaggio died in 1999 at the age of 84. His 56-game hitting streak record survives.

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