ST. LOUIS, July 11, 1941 -- Joe DiMaggio has done it again. If only there were more people in the building to see it.Rain in the forecast on a Friday afternoon and the fact that the hometown St. Louis Browns are having a season as dismal as the gray skies
ST. LOUIS, July 11, 1941 -- Joe DiMaggio has done it again. If only there were more people in the building to see it.
Rain in the forecast on a Friday afternoon and the fact that the hometown St. Louis Browns are having a season as dismal as the gray skies above Sportsman's Park brought a tiny crowd. Not even that bleakness could derail DiMaggio and his Yankees from their streaking ways.
DiMaggio ran his inconceivable, incomparable, incredible hitting streak to an even 50 games with four hits, including a home run, and the Yankees beat the lowly Browns, 6 to 2, in front of 1,625 persons.
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Not nearly enough spectators turned out to see a man who has become a force of nature with a baseball bat in his hands. He is now in his seventh week with at least one hit in every single game in which he has played. And on days like this one, he somehow still makes it look easy.
As has often been the case lately, DiMaggio didn't wait long to get on with the historic proceedings. After Tommy Henrich's home run gave New York a 2 to 0 lead in the first inning, DiMaggio stepped into the batter's box for his first at-bat of the day against St. Louis pitcher Bob Harris and promptly singled to center field to go from 49 games to 50. He is now six games better than Wee Willie Keeler's previous Major League record of 44 set in 1897.
The Browns scored two runs in the bottom of that frame to tie the game, but they would not score again. Meanwhile, DiMaggio was just getting warmed up. He singled to right field in the third and singled to left field in the fifth in his next two plate appearances.
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The Yankees took a 3 to 2 lead in the top of the sixth on a Joe Gordon homer, and in the seventh, DiMaggio proved that he doesn't only get the job done with the bat. With two out in the bottom of the frame, New York pitcher Marius Russo walked Browns center fielder Wally Judnich and the next batter, left fielder Roy Cullenbine, grounded a ball that went through Yanks third baseman Red Rolfe's legs for an error. The next hitter, St. Louis third baseman Harlond Clift, hit a blooper over the head of second baseman Gordon that looked like a hit that would give the Browns the lead. But DiMaggio stormed in from center field and made the inning-ending catch.
DiMaggio made his first out of the game later in that inning, grounding out to the pitcher, but he saved his most memorable trip to the plate for his last at-bat. With the Yankees enjoying a bit more breathing room after picking up an insurance run in the eighth inning, DiMaggio hit again in the ninth and launched a two-out, two-run home run, cementing another spectacular day of hitting.
In addition to the 50-game hitting streak, DiMaggio now has 20 homers and 73 runs batted in, both of which lead the American League, and his Yanks are now cruising at the top of the AL standings. They have won 11 consecutive games, 15 of their past 16 and 25 of their past 29. New York is four games ahead of second-place Cleveland.
Even diminutive shortstop Phil Rizzuto is getting in on the action. He went 1-for-4 and has hit in 14 consecutive games.
That puts him only 36 behind his famous teammate.
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.