On July 1, 1941, Joe DiMaggio recorded two hits in the first game of the Yankees' doubleheader against the Red Sox, then one more in the second. That extended his hitting streak to 44 games, tying the single-season record Willie Keeler set in 1897.DiMaggio famously went on to establish a
On July 1, 1941, Joe DiMaggio recorded two hits in the first game of the Yankees' doubleheader against the Red Sox, then one more in the second. That extended his hitting streak to 44 games, tying the single-season record Willie Keeler set in 1897.
DiMaggio famously went on to establish a still-standing record of 56 games, and 65 years later Beat the Streak participant "willmccormack14" -- who happens to be an avid Yankees fan from Connecticut -- was on the same path as Joltin' Joe.
After successfully picking the Rockies' DJ LeMahieu on Wednesday, "willmccormack14" matched Keeler at 44, remaining atop the active leaderboard. However, his chase for 57 straight picks and the $5.6 million grand prize ended Thursday, when LeMahieu's teammate, Charlie Blackmon, went 0-for-3 with a walk against the Reds.
• Play Beat the Streak, win $5.6 million
While the true identity of willmccormack14 remains a mystery, he had employed one clear strategy of late. After not making a pick on Memorial Day, he selected a Rockies hitter each of the past three days, looking to take advantage of both Coors Field and a Reds pitching staff that ranks last in the Majors in ERA.
For the first two of those days, the strategy paid off -- and did so quickly. On Tuesday, Blackmon homered in the first inning, and on Wednesday, LeMahieu doubled in the first.
"I liked LeMahieu for many reasons," willmccormack14 said. "Probably the biggest being that he had went 4-for-4 the night before. Adding in the fact that it was a righty-lefty matchup and there was a poor pitcher basically secured the pick.
"It's crazy to have a streak this long. When I started BTS, I never thought that I would make the leaderboard, much less make it to 44."
While picking one player at a time worked for willmccormack14, BTS users also can employ a "Double Down" strategy, whereby he or she selects two players on the same day. If both get a hit, the streak advances by two. If either goes hitless, the streak ends.
Features such as the Double Down and the "Mulligan" -- a one-time streak savior that can be used specifically on runs that are between 10 and 15 picks long -- make winning BTS easier than ever now. Players also can take as many days off as they want during a streak if the matchups aren't attractive, as long as they reach 57 by season's end.
No one has won the grand prize, which has escalated to $5.6 million, in the 15 previous seasons of BTS. If nobody wins it this season, the player with the longest streak still gets a $10,000 consolation prize. Two million other prizes also were given out last year, for streaks as small as five.
Having a BTS player topple the marvelous mark of 56 would be particularly fitting this season -- the 75th anniversary of DiMaggio's hitting streak, which began on May 15, 1941, and is being honored with daily recaps on MLB.com and @TheStreak on Twitter.
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com.