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June 18, 1941: Game 31

Posted By Hank Waddles On June 18, 2012 @ 7:45 am In 1940s,1: Featured,Hank Waddles,Yankees | Comments Disabled

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The Yankees lost their second straight to the White Sox, coming up on the short end of a 3-2 score. DiMaggio managed only a single in three at bats, a blooper over the head of shortstop Luke Appling, but it was enough to keep the streak alive. Charlie Keller’s two-run homerun in the second accounted for all of the Yankee runs and made it fourteen straight games that New York batters had homered.

There were some who believed that DiMaggio’s single hits in games thirty and thirty-one were questionable at best. The ball that hopped off of Appling’s shoulder on the 17th was seen as especially controversial, and various reporters at the time reported that fans at the Stadium stood in silence as they awaited the official scorer’s decision. That official scorer was Dan Daniel, and in October of 2007 David Robeson wrote an article in the Walrus [2] in which he asserted that Daniel’s biased scoring had erroneously given DiMaggio two hits that he didn’t deserve. (The hit in the 31st game glanced off of Appling’s glove, and Robeson argues it should’ve been scored an error as well.) Here’s the crux of Robeson’s argument:

In keeping with the ethics of the era, Dan Daniel, a popular writer who had been covering baseball since 1909, enjoyed all the perks of covering the Yankees. He travelled with and befriended the players, and had his expenses paid for by the club itself. Daniel was, by modern standards, part of the team, as much a PR man as a reporter. He wrote of DiMaggio extensively, championing “The Big Dago” before DiMaggio had even appeared in the bigs, and it was he who authored the quote, “Here is the replacement for Babe Ruth.” The Clipper made for wonderful copy: he was a good-looking bachelor who patrolled the most revered position in all of sports, centre field for the New York Yankees. Daniel also happened to be the most important witness to the streak. The reason? This friend of DiMaggio and quasi-employee of the New York Yankees just happened, unbelievably, to be the Yankees’ official home-game scorer as well — the very arbiter of hits and errors. For games at Yankee Stadium, Daniel, and Daniel alone, decided if DiMaggio was to be credited with a hit.

There is, of course, no video of either play, so we are left only with a box score [3] and a handful of written accounts. One thing is certain, though. There are countless variables in the game of baseball, ranging from an umpire’s view of a pitch in the neighborhood of the outside corner to the distance of one park’s fence as compared to another. An official scorer’s decision is simply one more thing which is beyond a player’s control. DiMaggio had a hit on the 17th, another on the 18th, and lots more after that.


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URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.bronxbanterblog.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/DiMaggio31.jpg

[2] David Robeson wrote an article in the Walrus: http://walrusmagazine.com/articles/2007.10-joe-dimaggio-56-games/

[3] box score: http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1941/B06180NYA1941.htm

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