Jackie Bradley’s hitting streak ended last night. All through the streak, references were made to Dominic DiMaggio’s streak of 34 games but not much detail was provided. The following article about that streak is an excerpt from my recent book ‘THE BASEBALL BUFF’S BATHROOM BOOK’, which is available in local book stores and on Amazon and Kindle
THE OTHER DIMAGGIO’S STREAK
Every baseball fan knows about the longest hitting streak in Major League Baseball history, Joe DiMaggio’s remarkable feat of hitting safely in 56 consecutive games from May 15 to July 16, 1941. During the streak, Joe hit .409, with 91 hits in 223 at bats. Coincidentally, that same year, Red Sox slugger Ted Williams hit .406 for the entire season, one of three times he hit .400 or better.
Joe DiMaggio’s record still stands today and may be the only baseball record besides Cy Young’s career 511 wins to remain unbroken forever.
On August 9, 1949, another hitting streak was broken and fell short of the Yankee Clipper’s 56 games. The Boston Red Sox center fielder, Dominic Paul DiMaggio, Joe’s younger brother, went into a game against the Yankees at Fenway Park with a 34 game hitting streak on the line.
Dominic had begun his streak on June 26 against the St. Louis Browns when he went 3-5 with three singles. He had hit .352 and scored 35 runs in the 34 games going into that August 9 game against the Yankees.
The Yankees Ace right hander, Vic Raschi, was on the mound for New York that day. Raschi had a 15-6 record coming into the game and was facing the Red Sox Ellis Kinder, who was 12-5. Both Raschi and Kinder pitched complete games with the Red Sox winning 6-3 to make their record 61-44.
The Sox were in third place five games behind the first place Yankees. Joe McCarthy was the Red Sox Manager and Casey Stengel led the Yankees. The Yankees would go on to win the pennant and beat the Dodgers four games to one in the World Series. The World Series win was the first of five consecutive World Series wins for the Yankees.
The Sox would finish in second place, one game behind the Yankees, after losing to the Yankees on the last day of the season 5-3. The same two pitchers, Raschi and Kinder were on the mound in that final game with Raschi finishing the season at 21-10 and Kinder at 23-6.
With his streak on the line, Dom led off the first inning for the Sox and grounded out to Phil Rizzuto, the Yankees future Hall of Fame shortstop. He also led off the third inning and flied out to his brother, future Hall of Fame center fielder, Joe Dimaggio. In his third at bat, he led off the fifth inning and was struck out by Raschi. In the seventh, he hit a ground ball back to Raschi, who threw him out at first.
In the eighth inning he came to the plate with his last chance at extending the streak and perhaps going on to match or better his brother’s all time record. Tom Clavin, author of the book, ‘The DiMaggio Brothers’, described that at bat in the New York Times of May 11, 2013 as follows; ‘ Down to his last at bat, he sent a screaming line drive to the outfield that Joe caught, preventing Dominic from coming any closer to Joe’s record 56 game streak. ‘ The streak was over, ended by a shoestring catch made by his brother, the record holder.
In addition to the Yankee’s Rizzuto, DiMaggio and Raschi, Yankee great Hank Bauer, who played on seven Yankees World Championship teams and later managed the Orioles to a World Championship, played right field that day and had two home runs.
The Red Sox lineup had Johnny Pesky playing third and batting second, followed by Ted Williams, who hit his 28th homer in the third, with Vern Stephens at short batting fourth. Second baseman Bobby Doerr batted fifth and first baseman Billy Goodman, right fielder Al Zarilla, Catcher Birdie Tebbetts, who homered in the second, and pitcher Kinder rounded out the lineup. Both Kinder and Raschi had base hits for their teams that day.
Ted Williams went 2-4 and raised his batting average to .348. He would end the season in second place in the batting race behind Detroit Tiger third baseman George Kell. Both Kell and Williams hit .343 but Kell’s .3429 beat out Williams’ .3428 for the title in the closest race in baseball history.
Dominic, the youngest of three DiMaggio brothers to play center field in the big leagues, played for the Sox from 1940 until 1953. In addition to his brother Joe, the oldest of the three brothers, Vincent Paul DiMaggio, played ten years in the big leagues with the Boston Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies and New York Giants. He had a career average of .249.
Dominic enlisted in the Navy in World War II and missed the 1943-1945 seasons. When he returned in 1946, he hit .316 and batted in 73 runs as a lead off hitter.
The year after the streak, 1950, Dom hit .328 with 193 hits and, in 1951, hit .296 with 189 hits. During that 1951 season, he had another streak, hitting safely in 27 games. In 1952, he played in 128 games and hit .294. After being benched by Red Sox Manager Lou Boudreau, in 1953, he retired from the game.
He had a career .296 batting average and was named to seven all star teams. At 5’9”, 168 pounds, and wearing glasses, he was dubbed the Little Professor and that nickname followed him through his career. He was a fine defensive player as well as being an extremely productive lead off hitter but played in his brother Joe’s shadow for most of his career. He was named to the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 1995.