Daily News rewind: Joe DiMaggio’s hit streak comes to an end

New York Daily News Enlarge
New York Daily News Enlarge

Daily News coverage of the end of Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hit streak.

(Originally publised by the Daily News on Friday, July 18, 1941; written by Jack Smith)

Cleveland, July 17. – One of the greatest feats in the history of baseball – Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak – ended under the gleaming arclights of huge Municipal Stadium here tonight. The largest crowd ever to see a night game, 67,468 roaring fans, sat tensely through nine spectacular innings which ended with the Yanks beating the second place Indians, 4-3. In four trips to the plate, the great Yank outfielder failed to get the ball out of the infield, drawing one walk and slapping three infield grounders. It was the end of a streak that surpassed by 12 games the previous all-time high for the major leagues and which was the driving force in a Yank surge which carried them from fourth place into the seven-game lead they now hold.

Joe’s streak started more than two months ago, on May 15, when he punched a single into right field off Southpaw Ed Smith of the White Sox. During that time, he faced every team in the league at least once and teed off on every kind of hurling until the combined work of Lefty Al Smith and Right Hander Jim Bagby stopped him tonight.


Only once before (June 15) during the streak has DiMag faced Al Smith, whose chief threat to any batter is control and pitching brains. He was robbed the first time up when he smashed a sizzling grounder toward third. Keltner speared it close to the foul line with a great backhand stab and threw him out at first by two steps.

Joe walked on a three and two pitch in the fourth and in the seventh whacked the first pitch back to Keltner again. Against Bagby he slapped an easy grounder to Boudreau for an inning ending double play.

Joe DiMaggio’s last game of the streak came the day before against Cleveland, a single in the fist inning to mark 56 in a row.AP Joe DiMaggio’s last game of the streak came the day before against Cleveland, a single in the fist inning to mark 56 in a row.

The game itself was dramatic enough without the added feature of DiMaggio. For six innings it was a blistering duel between Smith and Lefty Gomez. Rolfe’s infield hit and a foul line double by Henrich gave the Yanks a run in the first which the Indians didn’t match until the fourth when Gee Walker clouted an inside the park homer that stopped rolling only when it hit the fence 463 feet away.


Smith had allowed only two hits as he started the seventh. Henrich and DiMaggio were infield outs. The third out was not so easy and didn’t come until after Joe Gordon wafted his 15th homer over Gee Walker’s lunging hands and into the left field stands 335 feet from the plate.

That should have been the tipoff that Smitty was tiring. He couldn’t get past the eighth. Keller led off with a liner to center which Weatherly played into a triple. After Keltner threw out Rizzuto, Gomez lined a three and two pitch to left, scoring Keller. Sturm dropped a single in center and Rolfe banged a double to right, scoring Gomez. A walk to Henrich filled the bases, finished Smith and brought DiMag to the place to face Bagby.


It was not Joe’s night. He sent an easy grounder to Boudreau who flipped to Mack, forcing Henrich. Mack pivoted and fired to Grimes for the double play.

The ninth was by far the most exciting frame of the night. Gomez also wearied after flipping eight innings of four-hit ball. Walker led off with a single through the middle. Grimes lined another single to left. Enough for Gomez. The game was left for Johnny Murphy to save. He almost didn’t.

Larry Rosenthal, hitting for Mack, lined his first pitch between Henrich and DiMag for a triple. It was the same kind of hit as Walker’s homer and a faster man might have scored on it. What a spot! None out and the tying run on third base. What pitching! The run didn’t score.

Pinch Hitter Trosky grounded out to Sturm, Rosenthal holding third. Then came the play that lost the game for the Indians.

Campbell batted for Bagby and smacked back to the box. Murphy juggled it, then recovered and threw to the plate. Rosenthal was trapped. Campbell should have gone to second on the run down, which cut off the score. But he didn’t. He stayed on first which made Johnny Sturm play close to the bag on the foul line. Had Campbell been on second, Sturm would have been off the bag and Weatherly’s foul line grounder would have whizzed by for extra bases sending Campbell across with the tying run.


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