As I (Evander) write this on July 16, 2020, it is 79 years since Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak reached its 56th and final game.
In the twilight of his proud career the Clipper would enjoy his second-longest consecutive-game batting streak: 19 games.*
Between September 7, 1950, and September 26, 1950, DiMaggio collected 29 hits in 75 at-bats. That’s a .387 accomplishment. He had 8 home runs and drove in (RBI) 25 during this streak.
On September 11 he even hoisted three home runs into the distant left-field bleachers of Griffith Stadium. In his career, DiMaggio had hit three home runs in only two other games: on June 13, 1937, and on May 23, 1948 (this the first game of a doubleheader in Cleveland…two of the homers came off Bob Feller).
Overall that 1950 season, his last great one, Giuseppe led the American League with a .585 slugging percentage. He walked 80 times that year, an unusually high number for his career. He had 32 home runs, 122 RBI, and a .301 batting average.
Meanwhile, an 18-year-old slugger in Class C Ball, Joplin, Missouri, presumably still learning to ply his trade at shortstop, had 199 hits for a .383 batting average, 26 homers, and a .638 slugging percentage.
By 1951, and in right field not shortstop, Mickey Mantle would join the American hero, the greatest since Lindbergh and Ruth, on the New York Yankees.
(As fate would have it during the World Series that year, in running for a fly ball off the bat of another New York rookie and great-to-be, Willie Mays, who uncharacteristically swung late, Mantle [as DiMaggio called him off the play] caught his foot on the lip of a rubbery-drain and popped a knee. The injury was the beginning of Mantle’s star-crossed career.)
*My bad. The great DiMaggio had a 23-game hitting streak in 1940! (Thus we have an anniversary of 80 years as this blog was posted, along with the 70 of its title.)…Now that I’ve extended this essay, I’ll do so a little more. The also-great Red Smith, equally at home at a cuppy-racetrack or the baseball-sward, finished it all thus: “There were, of course, many others [memorable and favorites], not necessarily great. Indeed, there was a longish period when my rapport with some who were less than great made me nervous. Maybe I was stuck on bad ballplayers. I told myself not to worry. Some day there would be another Joe DiMaggio.”