During a brutal heat wave in our nation’s capital, the New York Yankees Joe DiMaggio is congratulated by his teammates after scoring on a passed ball to give his Yanks a 4-0 lead in the top of the sixth inning in the first game of a Sunday doubleheader. But the bigger thrill took place earlier, and why 30,000-plus packed Griffith Stadium with temps nearing 100 degrees, when the Yankee Clipper lead the inning off with a doubled to centerfield off the Senators pitcher Dutch Leonard to extend his hitting streak to 41 games, tying George Sisler’s American League record set in 1922 as a member of the St Louis Browns.
The Yankees would breeze in taking the first game by a 9-4 score, led by Phil Rizzuto’s three hits and a Tommy Henrich home run in the ninth inning that sealed the game for New York.
In the second game of the doubleheader, DiMaggio would break the AL-record with a single off relief pitcher Red Anderson in the seventh inning. The game was halted as players from both teams and the near sellout crowd applauded DiMaggio’s achievement of hitting safely now in 42 consecutive games. This amazing effort began on May 15th when DiMaggio went one-for-four against Chicago White Sox pitcher Eddie Smith.
The next milestone for DiMaggio would be the Major League record of 44-games, set by Wee Willie Keeler in 1897 while playing for the Baltimore Orioles. After hitting safely the next two games to tie Keeler at 44 in yet another doubleheader two days later at Yankee Stadium against the Boston Red Sox, the stage was now set on July 2nd for baseball immortality, and DiMaggio delivered in climatic fashion when he homered in the fifth inning off Red Sox pitcher Dick Newsome to break Keeler’s record and extend his hitting streak to 45 games. Oddly enough and despite the national attention his streak drew, only 8,682 fans made it to Yankee Stadium on a Wednesday afternoon to see history made in an 8-4 Yankees win.
DiMaggio would extend his streak to incredible 56-games when the well went dry in Cleveland on July 17th. There, in front of 67,468 at Cleveland Stadium, he would see his string snapped as he would go 0-3 against two Indians pitchers, Al Smith and Jim Bagby. His final chance coming against Bagby in the eighth inning, but DiMaggio would hit into an inning ending double play.
One of the interesting aspects of this photo is you can see how uncomfortable those heavy wool uniforms must have to been to play in, as the sweat is breaking through DiMaggio’s jersey. Even outfielder George Selkirk on the right wearing #3 is sweating profusely, and he didn’t even play that day!