May 15- Joe DiMaggio begins MLB Record 56 Game Hitting Streak
1941- On this Day in Sports History, Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees began his MLB record 56 game hitting streak. The record has stood for 80 years with the next closest player being Willie Keeler who had a 45 game hitting streak with the Baltimore Orioles.
Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak began with a home game against the Chicago White Sox at Yankee Stadium. DiMaggio hit fourth in the lineup while he played center field. The opposing pitcher was Eddie Smith. DiMaggio only got one hit on the day as he finished the game 1-4 with an RBI. His hit came in the bottom of the first inning when he singled to left field which scored Phil Rizzuto. It was the only run that the Yankees scored as Smith pitched a complete game for the White Sox. The Yankees lost the game 13-1 which put their record at 14-15.
Although DiMaggio went hitless in the two games before, his single in the first inning in this game would be the start of a 56 game hitting streak that no one else has even gotten close to. On July 2, DiMaggio passed Willie Keeler’s 41 game hit streak to break the record. The streak came to an end on July 17 when DiMaggio failed to get a hit against the Cleveland Indians in a game the Yankees won 4-3. Over the course of the 56 games, he hit .405 with 91 hits, 15 home runs, and 55 RBI’s, while the Yankees went 41-13 (2 ties).
After losing his 56 game hit streak, DiMaggio started a new streak the following game. He’d reach 16 games in the new streak before it ended. He recorded a hit in 72 out of 73 games during this stretch. DiMaggio actually had a longer hitting streak in the minor leagues when he hit in 61 straight games which is the second longest minor league streak of all time. The longest minor league hitting streak belongs to Joe Wilhoit who reached 69 games in 1919.
The 1941 New York Yankees would go on to finish first in the American League with a record of 101-53. They won the World Series by beating the Brooklyn Dodgers. Joe DiMaggio was named the American League MVP.
DiMaggio retired in 1951 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1955. He was an All-Star every year, except for the three years he spent fighting in World War II in the middle of his career. He was also a 9x World Series Champion, 3x American League MVP, and still holds the MLB record with his 56 game hitting streak that began on this day in 1941.
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“Chicago White Sox at New York Yankees Box Score, May 15, 1941.” Baseball Reference
Goodman, Max. “This Day in Yankees History: Joe DiMaggio's 56-Game Hitting Streak Began.” Sports Illustrated NY Yankees News, Analysis and More, Sports Illustrated, 16 May 2020
History.com Editors. “Joe DiMaggio Ends 56-Game Hitting Streak.” History, A&E Television Networks, 16 Nov. 2009