John Holway / Yankees
Men willingly believe what they want to believe.
By John B Holway
Joes streak is as full of holes as an archery
target. Two questionable calls by a friendly
Until DiMaggio, hitting streaks received very little publicity. The papers mentioned them low in the story without fanfare. They just happened naturally. When George Sislers 41-game streak, the modern record before DiMaggios, was broken in a game against the Yanks, the New York Times didn't even mention it.
But none of those early streakers was a
Yankee. When the
First of all, its a myth that DiMaggio hit in 56 straight games:
Game #12, May 26. Jimmy Halperin, a sore-armed Class B pitcher, stopped Joe, 0-for-2, in an exhibition game. So DiMaggio didn't hit in 56 straight baseball games. This is rarely mentioned by Joes biographers.
#30, June 17. White Sox
fast-baller Johnny Rigney retired Joe the first three times
up. In the ninth DiMag slapped
a ground ball straight at shortstop Luke Appling, hitting him on the shoulder
and bouncing into leftfield. All eyes turned to the press box, where official scorer
Dan Daniel of the
#31, June 18. Chicago
Lefty Thornton Lee, the league ERA champ, walked Joe and got him on a double
play before the Yankee came up in the fifth and hit another grounder to
Appling. Again Luke bobbled
it and didn't even make the throw.
Again Daniel came to the rescue and kept the streak
There were no Hit/Error signs on the scoreboard
then. I marked it an error on my scorecard, says
Tom Knight, a
# 37, June 26.
Under-hander Elden Auker of
Tom Henrich was next up. A double play would end the inning and Joes streak. Mind if I bunt? Tom asked manager Joe McCarthy. Good idea, McCarthy nodded. In those days the Yankees didn't bunt, said Ferrell. They were playing for the streak, not the game.
That brought DiMag up with a runner on second. Should Auker walk him? Elden decided to pitch to him, and Joe cracked an infield hit. Ferrell was upset, this time with Auker: If I'd been pitching, I wouldn't have laid one in there.
In an earlier era, say Keelers 45-game 1896 streak or George Sisters 41 in 1922 or even early in DiMaggios streak before anyone knew it was a streak that inning might have been played entirely differently.
Game #40, June
DiMaggio claimed that
However, there is no record that Babich ever threatened to walk Joe. He and I were the best of friends, John insisted.
DiMaggio did hit an outside pitch between Babichs legs, but it was on a
1-0 pitch, not 3-0. However, the story fits the larger DiMaggio myth so well that even reputable historians still repeat it without checking the facts.