Category Archives: Ted Williams, Yankees, Red Sox

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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