Game 56: July 16, 1941
Cruising into Cleveland, the New York Yankees understood the importance of this three-game series. The Indians were five games back, but a good showing by the second-place club could make it a pennant race again.
With the streak at 55 straight, Bob Feller loomed in the set’s finale. But first, Cleveland would throw a couple of journeymen hurlers—Al Milnar and Al Smith. Neither had presented much of a threat to DiMaggio or the Yankees in the past.
On July 16, 1941, about 15,000 descended upon old League Park—the neighborhood gem that had seen better days.
DiMaggio wouldn’t keep the fans in suspense. He went 3-for-4, scoring three times in a 10-3 New York rout. The streak now stood at 56 consecutive games with a hit.
But a handful of storylines emerged.
With the big game, DiMaggio’s average was creeping ever upward. Now at .375, DiMaggio pulled within 20 points of the “slumping” Ted Williams.
"Triple crown" was on the lips of the Yankee faithful. At this point, DiMaggio led the American League in homers and RBI.
As hot as DiMaggio was, surely he’d catch Williams for average, too.
The loss put Cleveland six games back. They would no longer seriously challenge.
And then there was Buddy Rosar. The 27-year-old catcher had remained hot enough to keep future Hall of Famer Bill Dickey on the bench.
On July 16, Rosar went 3-for-5, hit a pair of doubles and drove in a career-high five runs. His average—a robust .352—was tops among AL backstops.
But this would be his last big game of the season. Rosar was headed for a rest-of-the-season slump. His average would plummet to .287 by season’s end. Within two years, he was traded to these very Cleveland Indians.
DiMaggio always liked hitting in the quirky League Park. His three-hit game confirmed that. But the next day, the Indians would move their contest to cavernous Municipal Stadium on the banks of Lake Erie.
Even during an oven-hot summer, with a breeze off the lake, a game at Municipal could be a chilling experience.
The following day, DiMaggio discovered just how cold that uninviting facility could be.
JoeDiMaggio.com is the official and authorized Web site of Joe DiMaggio. During the 70th anniversary of DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, it is publishing “Reliving Joe DiMaggio’s Streak,” which follows the daily progress of Joltin' Joe in 1941. Series Archive.
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