Category Archives: JOE DIMAGGIO

DIMAGGIO AND WILLIAMS 1941

Seventy-seven years ago today, on November 11, 1941, Joe DiMaggio was named the American League Most Valuable Player and Ted Williams was the runner up. Joe received 291 points in the balloting and Ted got 254, with Joe being named number one on 15 ballots and Ted on eight of the 24 cast.

That year, only months before the attack on Pearl Harbor thrust the nation into war, these two were responsible for two of the most memorable performances in baseball history.

On July `15 of that year, Joe had gone 3 for 4 to extend his consecutive game hitting streak to 56 games, the longest streak in Major League Baseball history and one of the few records that will never be broken. The next day, Joe went hitless against the Cleveland Indians, ending the streak. He was robbed twice of base hits on back handed stabs by Cleveland Indians third baseman, Ken Keltner as he went 0-4 on the day and the Yankees lost 2-1. During the 56 game streak, Joe had 91 hits in 223 at bats for an average of .408.

On July 16, when Joe’s streak ended, Ted Williams was batting .395, en route to a final batting average of .406, the last time anyone had hit .400 or better in a season. Ted had played in his first 73 games and had gone 96-243, with 16 home runs and 63 RBI’s.

The next day, July 18, 1941, The Yankee Clipper got two hits in four at bats against the Indians, starting a new streak of 16 games in which he would get at least one hit in each game and would bat 68 times while accumulating 29 hits for a .426 batting average.

The 56 game streak had started on May 15, 1941 and lasted through July 16. In the 73 game stretch that included both streaks and the 0-4 against Cleveland that ended the first streak, Joe went 120 for 295 for an average of .406, coincidentally, exactly the same average that Ted hit for the entire 154 game season.

When the streak started, on May 15, the Yankees had won 14 and lost 14 and were in fourth place in the American League, five and one half games behind the first place Cleveland Indians. When the streak ended, the Yankees had won 55 and lost 27 and were in first place by six games over Cleveland. During the streak, the Yankees had won 41 and lost just 13.

The Yankees would end the season with 101 wins and 53 losses and would beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series, four games to one. The World Series win was the Yankees fifth in six years after winning four in a row, from 1936 until 1939. They would win again in 1943, over the St Louis Cardinals, for a total of six wins and seven series appearances in eight years.

Wee Willie Keeler of the Baltimore team in the old National League had held the consecutive game streak with 45 games prior to Joe’s streak. Keeler had his streak over two seasons, from 1896-1897. The closest anyone has ever come in the modern era was Pete Rose’s streak of 44 games in 1978.

Joe was no stranger to hitting streaks. He made his debut in professional ball with the San Francisco Seals of the AAA Pacific Coast League in 1932 and, the next year, he had a consecutive game hitting streak of 61 games which lasted from May 27 until July 25. That streak, according to Baseball Almanac, had only been exceeded once when Joe Wilhoit hit in 69 consecutive games in the Western League in 1919.

Yankee and Red Sox fans can and do argue all day about who was the better hitter or the better all around player between the two of them. The fact is that the year 1941 saw two of the greatest performances in the history of baseball by two of the greatest players ever to play the game.

Ted, The Splendid Splinter, and Joe, The Yankee Clipper, had 997 at bats between them that year. Ted came up 456 times and struck out just 27 times. Joe had 541 at bats and 13 strike outs. In 997 at bats, they struck out a total of 40 times between them, an average of one strikeout in every 25 at bats. Ted hit .406 and had 37 homers and 120 RBI’s while Joe hit .357 with 30 homers and 125 RBI’s.

Ted’s performance over the entire year will probably never be equaled and neither will Joe’s streak. Ted’s career batting average was .344 over 19 years and Joe’s was .325 over 13 years. Ted lost four of his most productive years while serving his country in the military in the Second World War and Joe lost three.

Joe had the luxury of playing with some of the greatest teams ever assembled in New York while Ted was playing for an also ran in most of his career in Boston. Ted had a 19 year career, all of it spent with the Red Sox, while Joe spent his entire 13 year career with the Yankees.

In the history of baseball, there may never have been two such talented players playing for arch rivals for such a long period of time and the year 1941 saw them both at their best.

I was fortunate to have seen both of these greats play many times, later in their careers. There are not many people still around who witnessed their performances 75 years ago, in 1941. Over my desk in my office, I have a picture of the two of them, both holding bats and obviously talking hitting and who, in the history of baseball, was better qualified to talk hitting.

Whether you agree that they were probably the two best hitters of all time or not, no one can change the fact that, at least in 1941, they were as good as it can or ever will get.

eventy-seven years ago today, on November 11, 1941, Joe DiMaggio was named the American League Most Valuable Player and Ted Williams was the runner up. Joe received 291 points in the balloting and Ted got 254, with Joe being named number one on 15 ballots and Ted on eight of the 24 cast.

That year, only months before the attack on Pearl Harbor thrust the nation into war, these two were responsible for two of the most memorable performances in baseball history.

On July `15 of that year, Joe had gone 3 for 4 to extend his consecutive game hitting streak to 56 games, the longest streak in Major League Baseball history and one of the few records that will never be broken. The next day, Joe went hitless against the Cleveland Indians, ending the streak. He was robbed twice of base hits on back handed stabs by Cleveland Indians third baseman, Ken Keltner as he went 0-4 on the day and the Yankees lost 2-1. During the 56 game streak, Joe had 91 hits in 223 at bats for an average of .408.

On July 16, when Joe’s streak ended, Ted Williams was batting .395, en route to a final batting average of .406, the last time anyone had hit .400 or better in a season. Ted had played in his first 73 games and had gone 96-243, with 16 home runs and 63 RBI’s.

The next day, July 18, 1941, The Yankee Clipper got two hits in four at bats against the Indians, starting a new streak of 16 games in which he would get at least one hit in each game and would bat 68 times while accumulating 29 hits for a .426 batting average.

The 56 game streak had started on May 15, 1941 and lasted through July 16. In the 73 game stretch that included both streaks and the 0-4 against Cleveland that ended the first streak, Joe went 120 for 295 for an average of .406, coincidentally, exactly the same average that Ted hit for the entire 154 game season.

When the streak started, on May 15, the Yankees had won 14 and lost 14 and were in fourth place in the American League, five and one half games behind the first place Cleveland Indians. When the streak ended, the Yankees had won 55 and lost 27 and were in first place by six games over Cleveland. During the streak, the Yankees had won 41 and lost just 13.

The Yankees would end the season with 101 wins and 53 losses and would beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series, four games to one. The World Series win was the Yankees fifth in six years after winning four in a row, from 1936 until 1939. They would win again in 1943, over the St Louis Cardinals, for a total of six wins and seven series appearances in eight years.

Wee Willie Keeler of the Baltimore team in the old National League had held the consecutive game streak with 45 games prior to Joe’s streak. Keeler had his streak over two seasons, from 1896-1897. The closest anyone has ever come in the modern era was Pete Rose’s streak of 44 games in 1978.

Joe was no stranger to hitting streaks. He made his debut in professional ball with the San Francisco Seals of the AAA Pacific Coast League in 1932 and, the next year, he had a consecutive game hitting streak of 61 games which lasted from May 27 until July 25. That streak, according to Baseball Almanac, had only been exceeded once when Joe Wilhoit hit in 69 consecutive games in the Western League in 1919.

Yankee and Red Sox fans can and do argue all day about who was the better hitter or the better all around player between the two of them. The fact is that the year 1941 saw two of the greatest performances in the history of baseball by two of the greatest players ever to play the game.

Ted, The Splendid Splinter, and Joe, The Yankee Clipper, had 997 at bats between them that year. Ted came up 456 times and struck out just 27 times. Joe had 541 at bats and 13 strike outs. In 997 at bats, they struck out a total of 40 times between them, an average of one strikeout in every 25 at bats. Ted hit .406 and had 37 homers and 120 RBI’s while Joe hit .357 with 30 homers and 125 RBI’s.

Ted’s performance over the entire year will probably never be equaled and neither will Joe’s streak. Ted’s career batting average was .344 over 19 years and Joe’s was .325 over 13 years. Ted lost four of his most productive years while serving his country in the military in the Second World War and Joe lost three.

Joe had the luxury of playing with some of the greatest teams ever assembled in New York while Ted was playing for an also ran in most of his career in Boston. Ted had a 19 year career, all of it spent with the Red Sox, while Joe spent his entire 13 year career with the Yankees.

In the history of baseball, there may never have been two such talented players playing for arch rivals for such a long period of time and the year 1941 saw them both at their best.

I was fortunate to have seen both of these greats play many times, later in their careers. There are not many people still around who witnessed their performances 75 years ago, in 1941. Over my desk in my office, I have a picture of the two of them, both holding bats and obviously talking hitting and who, in the history of baseball, was better qualified to talk hitting.

Whether you agree that they were probably the two best hitters of all time or not, no one can change the fact that, at least in 1941, they were as good as it can or ever will get.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE YANKEE CLIPPER

The Yankee Clipper, Joe DiMaggio, would have been one hundred years old on Tuesday of this week. Unfortunately, Joe passed away at the age of 84 in Hollywood, FL in 1999.

Joe was with the New York Yankees from his debut in 1936 until 1951 but spent three of those years, 1943-1945, in the Army in World War II. Like many players of this era, he spent most of his time in the military instructing physical education and playing baseball but did his duty to his country.

He was born in Martinez, California, on November 25, 1914 and played three years for the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League from 1933 to 1935, hitting .340, .341 and .398. If the averages weren’t high enough, he had a 61 game hitting streak in 1933, his first year in organized ball. The Yankees bought him from San Francisco for $25,000. and five players and he made his debut with them on May 3, 1936.

In his first four years with the Yankees, 1936-1939, the team won the American League Championship and went on to win the World Series, the first of nine times he would be on a World Championship team. He was also in one other World Series, in 1942, but the Yankees lost that year to the St. Louis Cardinals. He was named to the American League All Star team every one of the thirteen years he played.

He had a career batting average of .325 and slugging percentage of .579 and won the American League Batting Championship in 1939 and 1940, hitting .381 and .352. He was the American League’s Most Valuable Player in 1939, 1941 and 1947 and led the league in home runs in 1937 and 1948 with 46 and 39. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955.

In addition to his hitting ability, Joe was a fine defensive center fielder. Teammate Yogi Berra, one of the greatest catchers of all time once said of DiMaggio, ‘ He never did anything wrong on the field. I’ve never seen him dive for a ball, everything was a chest high catch and he never walked off the field. ‘ He was an extremely graceful and gifted athlete who could run at top speed while looking like it was effortless which made him a great base runner. The fact that he hit 10 or more triples in seven different seasons is a testament to his base running ability and speed.

Much has been written about his 56 game hitting streak in 1941. Prior to this accomplishment, the longest a player had ever gone with at least one hit in every game was the 44 game streak of Wee Willie Keeler in 1897. This record is one of very few baseball records which will probably never be broken. More amazing than the streak was his record at the plate for the entire season. While hitting .357 and winning the Most Valuable Player Award, he came to the plate 617 times, including 76 bases on balls, and struck out just 13 times in that entire season, a mind boggling one strike out in every 47.5 at bats.

His brothers, Dominic and Vince were also major league center fielders. Dom, three years younger than Joe, was with the Red Sox his entire career, from 1940-1953, and spent the years 1943-1945 in the service like Joe. He was a lifetime .298 hitter and an All Star seven times. At 5’9” and 168 pounds and wearing eye glasses he was dubbed the Little Professor.

Vince, two years older than Joe, played center field for the Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates and had a .249 life time batting average. He was named to the National League All Star Team twice, in 1943 and 1944, when his more famous older and younger brothers were in the military.

Joe DiMaggio was a charismatic figure and one of, if not the most, popular of all the great Yankees. He was a great representative of the game both on and off the field. Whenever anyone talks about the greatest all around players of all time, DiMaggio’s name is always near the top.

As New York Mayor Ed Koch once said of him ‘ He represented the best in America. It was his character, his generosity, his sensitivity. He was someone who set a standard every father would want his children to follow. ‘

If you saw the commercial Gatorade made for Derek Jeter’s retirement, you saw Jeter touch the sign at the entrance to the field from the clubhouse that says ‘ I’d like to thank the Good Lord for making me a Yankee ‘. That was Joe DiMaggio’s quote and summarizes his life, career and dedication to the game and the team.