New York Yankees centerfielder Joe DiMaggio’s most famous achievement is his MLB record-breaking 56-game hitting streak in 1941…..as seen in this video herewith. The streak began on May 15, 1941, a couple of weeks before the death of Lou Gehrig….when DiMaggio went one-for-four against Chicago White Sox pitcher Eddie Smith….as the major newspapers began to write about DiMaggio’s streak early on….but as he approached George Sisler’s modern era record of 41 games….it became a national phenomenon. Initially, DiMaggio showed little interest in breaking Sisler’s record, saying “I’m not thinking a whole lot about it… I’ll either break it or I won’t.”….but as he approached Sisler’s record, DiMaggio showed more interest, saying, “At the start I didn’t think much about it… but naturally I’d like to get the record since I am this close.”….then on June 29, 1941, DiMaggio doubled in the first game of a doubleheader against the Washington Senators at Griffith Stadium to tie Sisler’s record and then singled in the nightcap to extend his streak to 42 games. A Yankee Stadium crowd of 52,832 fans watched DiMaggio tie the all-time hitting streak record of 44 games by Wee Willie Keeler in 1897 on July 1…..and the next day against the Boston Red Sox….he homered into Yankee Stadium’s left field stands to extend his streak to 45….and thus setting a new record. DiMaggio recorded 67 hits in 179 at-bats during the first 45 games of his streak….while Keeler recorded 88 hits in 201 at-bats. DiMaggio continued hitting after breaking Keeler’s record…..reaching 50 straight games on July 11 against the St. Louis Browns. On July 17 at Cleveland Stadium, DiMaggio’s streak was finally snapped at 56 games….thanks in part to two backhand stops by Indians third baseman Ken Keltner.
Joe DiMaggio batted .408 during the streak with 15 home runs and 55 RBI….when the day after the streak ended….DiMaggio started another streak that lasted 16 games. The distinction of hitting safely in 72 of 73 games is also a record. The closest anyone has come to equaling DiMaggio since 1941 is Pete Rose…who hit safely in 44 straight games in 1978. During the streak, DiMaggio played in seven doubleheaders. The Yankees’ record during the streak was 41–13–2.