JULY 17, 1941 | CLEVELAND, OHIO – Joe DiMaggio’s hit streak ends in Cleveland, and 56 becomes an iconic number in the world of sports. “Joltin Joe” got at least one hit in 56 consecutive games – until tonight.
The streak captivated the nation for weeks. A record-breaking 67,468 fans came to Cleveland Municipal Stadium on a Thursday night to watch the Yankee slugger try to extend his streak,
The streak started quietly at Comiskey Park in Chicago on May 15th. Interest intensified as DiMaggio reached 30 consecutive games with at least one hit. It grew into an obsession when DiMaggio surpassed Wee Willie Keeler‘s 45 game hit streak record on July 2nd and kept on going. Now DiMaggio was setting a new record every game.
It was stopped at the hands of two relatively unknown Cleveland pitchers, left-hander Al Smith and right-hander Jim Bagby. All-star third baseman Ken Keltner made two dazzling plays to rob DiMaggio of hits.
DiMaggio didn’t just break Keeler’s record, he smashed it by 11 games. Had 56 not been where DiMaggio’s hit streak ends, we could very well be talking about a 73-game hitting streak. After going hitless on July 17th, DiMaggio went on hitting in 16 more consecutive games.
How remarkable is DiMaggio’s display of hitting consistency? To this day no one has surpassed Wee Willie Keeler’s mark of 45 consecutive games with at least one hit – except Joe DiMaggio.
Top 10 Consecutive game hit leaders and year accomplished:
Joe DiMaggio 56 (1941)
Wee Willie Keeler 45 (1897)
Pete Rose 44 (1978)
Bill Dahlen 42 (1894)
George Sisler 41 (1922)
Ty Cobb 40 (1911)
Paul Molitor 39 (1987)
Jimmy Rollins 38 (2006)
Tommy Holmes 37 (1945)
Gene DeMontreville 36 (1897)
The Associated Press, July 18, 1941
Longest Hitting Streaks