CLEVELAND, July 16, 1941 -- The Yankees had a double agenda upon arriving in Cleveland for a crucial series against the Indians.The first task on the list was for the incredible Joe DiMaggio to continue to dazzle baseball and its fans all over the country by hitting in his 56th
CLEVELAND, July 16, 1941 -- The Yankees had a double agenda upon arriving in Cleveland for a crucial series against the Indians.
The first task on the list was for the incredible Joe DiMaggio to continue to dazzle baseball and its fans all over the country by hitting in his 56th consecutive game. The second? To put more distance between New York and the Indians in the American League standings.
• Joe DiMaggio's run to 56: Rewriting the record
Both feats were accomplished Wednesday in what has become a season of historic, unforgettable achievement for New York's sensational, celebrated center fielder and his club. DiMaggio had a banner day at the plate to reach No. 56, and the Yankees steamrolled Cleveland in a 10 to 3 victory before 15,000 fans in League Park to prove, at least for now, that the visiting team is the one to catch in the AL in 1941.
DiMaggio hasn't been wasting much time lately in rewriting the course of baseball history, and he stuck to that made-for-Hollywood script on Wednesday.
Facing Cleveland pitcher Al Milnar with two outs and a runner on first base in the top of the first inning, DiMaggio hit the first pitch he saw into center field for a single. No. 56 was his, and by the time Joe Gordon and Buddy Rosar had added base hits, a 2 to 0 lead belonged to the Yankees.
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With hits in 56 consecutive games, DiMaggio is now 12 games better than the previous Major League record set by Wee Willie Keeler of the 1897 Baltimore Orioles. He has hit safely in every game for more than two months now, and the rest of his afternoon showed that he has not let the mounting pressure and press coverage he's been receiving for more than a month alter that picturesque, sound right-handed swing.
DiMaggio made it to the plate for the second time Wednesday in the top of the third inning with the Indians having tied the ballgame at 2 to 2, and again he singled to center off Milnar. That base hit didn't lead to any Yankees runs, and DiMaggio didn't strike in his next at-bat, which came in the seventh inning and which resulted in a walk. The Yankees were in the midst of a three-run frame that would extend their lead to 7 to 2 and effectively close the door on the Indians for the afternoon.
But DiMaggio wasn't quite finished.
After a leadoff groundout in the seventh that temporarily reminded baseball fans that he is indeed human and not every swing results in a hit, DiMaggio went back to his historic ways in his final plate appearance in the ninth.
DiMaggio hit a one-out double, keying a two-run inning that put the game away at 10 to 3. With three hits in four at-bats and three runs scored, the Great DiMag is now batting .375, a mere 20 points behind AL leader Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox, and is leading the league in home runs and runs batted in.
Those numbers, of course, don't compare to the biggest one right now: 56.
On May 15, 1941, Joe DiMaggio began his legendary 56-game hitting streak. In celebration of the 75th anniversary of that seemingly unbreakable record, we'll be doing a day-by-day account of the momentous feat.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB.