Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak has stood as one of sports' most fabled records for more than 70 years. On Tuesday, baseball fans everywhere had a chance to eclipse the mark in a matter of hours by playing MLB.com's Beat the Streak in a Day.
By the time the final pitch had been thrown, the magic number still stood, as no one grabbed the $5.6 million grand prize. Still, Tuesday's leader managed to take home $1,000 after a 51-for-57 performance. The last time the contest ran, back in June, the top scorer secured the $1,000 consolation with a 49-for-57 showing. You can check Tuesday's leaderboard at MLB.com.
The 2013 season will offer more chances for fans to knock off DiMaggio and, in the process, take home the biggest jackpot in the history of fantasy sports.
In MLB.com's traditional Beat the Streak game, participants try to establish a virtual hitting streak by picking one or two big leaguers per day, with their runs continuing as long as their selections collect at least one hit in their contests.
Beat the Streak in a Day works the same way, except for one variation: Fans make all 57 picks at once.
As we head into the stretch-run phase of 2013, William Bryan of South Metro Atlanta sits as the season's traditional BTS leader. The 30-year-old police officer, husband and father of two rose to the top after making 47 straight successful selections before Saturday, when an 0-fer from Braves outfielder Justin Upton ended his remarkable run.
The outcome notwithstanding, Bryan's streak may garner him a lot more than "thanks for playing." If the season were to end today, he would win the $10,000 consolation set aside for the participant who finishes atop the traditional BTS standings.
An ardent Braves fan, Bryan may also gain a gift that isn't indicated anywhere in the official BTS rules. You see, Upton got wind that his hitless evening had ended Bryan's rise up the BTS ladder. And in arguably the classiest move in the contest's history, the outfielder invited Bryan and his family to Friday night's game at Turner Field. And guess what? The two may even meet prior to first pitch.
"I felt terrible," Upton said. "I had been hot. It was a pretty safe pick. But I just didn't get it done that night. If there is any consolation, hopefully I can have him come out and hopefully catch a game or something."
"I'm just completely starstruck," Bryan said. "Here I was, playing a silly game on the computer, and now I am getting all of this attention. It's great."
In 13-plus seasons of Beat the Streak, no one has matched DiMaggio's magic number of 56, set in 1941. To win that game's $5.6 million grand prize, one must top Joe D.'s run by one. Whether someone can do so this season remains to be seen, but participating is fun and free. Not a bad deal, considering the millions of reasons to play and the potential for a life-changing payday.
Zachary Finkelstein is an editorial producer for MLB.com.