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Tag: kostya kennedy

The Day the Hit Streak Died

From Kostya Kennedy:

It was 70 years ago, on a mild and misty night in Cleveland, before the largest crowd of the 1941 baseball season — 67,463 in Municipal Stadium — that Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak came to an end. The game became, in today’s parlance, an “instant classic.” It would have been destined for countless airings on many sports channels had only there been footage to air.

Instead the night of July 17, 1941 survived only in memory (and in some part myth), re-lived and re-told not just by DiMaggio himself but also by his teammates and by the opposing Indians players and by the coaches and the batboys and by the people who attended the game and by the many thousands more who were not at the game, but who would swear, year after year, that they were.

The facts are simple: DiMaggio went 0-for-3 with a fourth-inning walk. Yet each of DiMaggio’s at-bats that night was an event, the mass of fans cheering and hooting each time he strode to the plate. Many of the people felt unsure whether or not they wanted to see the Great DiMag, as he was called, succeed against their Indians. Cleveland’s ace pitcher, Bob Feller, felt that way as he watched from the Indians dugout. When I spoke to him, some nine months before his death at age 92 last December, Feller said he remembered the game clear as if the floodlights were still upon it.

Of course, a new hit streak started the next day.

Built to Last

Here’s Kostya Kennedy talking Joe D:


Look, Up in the Sky

There is an excerpt from the new Joe D book in this week’s issue of SI. Check it outski:

JOE DIMAGGIO sat reading Superman and smoking in his room at the Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. He adored Superman comics, although he did not want many people to know this. If the newspapers picked up on it, who knew what people might think? What if they made fun of him? His roommate, Lefty Gomez, had the assignment of discreetly buying the weekly comic book for DiMaggio; whenever Joe himself carried a copy he tucked it out of sight. He read the daily Superman strips in the newspaper too.

Superman was a story of unambiguous heroism in which the seemingly impossible was routinely achieved. Something important was always at stake. Everybody loved Superman, and unfailingly he saved the day. There was also the ever-present element of secrecy, of Clark Kent’s disguising a completely other identity that no one, not even Lois Lane, could know.

“Why, Joe, you’re just like him,” Gomez would kid. “He puts on his uniform, and all of a sudden no one can stop him! He’s everyone’s hero.” Sometimes when Gomez bought the comic—and DiMaggio always had him get it the very day it came out—he would goof around by calling out to DiMaggio, who hovered off to the side, “You mean this comic book, Joe? Or this one, the Superman?” DiMaggio would scowl and turn his back and walk off a few paces. Only Gomez could get away with tweaking him like this.

That night, June 28, 1941, with a chance for DiMaggio to pass George Sisler’s American League record during a doubleheader at Griffith Stadium the next day, he and Gomez would stay in the room. DiMaggio’s hitting streak was at 40 games, one short of Sisler’s mark from 1922, and as the 26-year-old DiMaggio had realized over the last few days in New York City and Philadelphia, being out in public now meant being subjected to almost relentless pestering.

The Streak

Kostya Kennedy’s new book on Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak makes for a great Sports Illustrated cover this week.

The Daily News ran an excerpt a few days ago. Dig in. And also, check out this SI podcast with Kennedy.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver