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Will DiMaggio’s Streak Ever Be Broken?

By Mike Silva ~ March 24th, 2011. Filed under: Mike Silva, NY Baseball Memories.

Kostya Kennedy, author of the new Joe DiMaggio book “56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports,” joined me on last night’s radio show. When discussing the project we talked about how this record has withstood the test of baseball time. Despite different eras of offense, performance enhancing drugs, expansion, and even the thin air of Colorado no player has been able to destroy DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak. Will anyone be able to beat that record?

Jimmy Rollins use to strive to break DiMaggio’s record every spring. He told Kennedy in an article for the Huffington Post the streak is the “golden grail.” After experiencing how difficult it was during his 38 game hitting streak that stretched over two seasons (2006-2007) he no longer makes that proclamation. The recent object of Mets fan ire, Luis Castillo, actually had a 35 game hitting streak in 2002. After he extended the streak one night he told his first base coach “”S-t. I have to do this again tomorrow night.” When Paul Molitor was in the midst of his 39 game hitting streak in 1987 he told Sports Illustrated reaching Pete Rose‘s 44, not DiMaggio’s 56, was “a fantasy.” Molitor went on to say “if you’re realistic, you realize that each day your chances of it continuing are less and less. I try not to look past one day at a time. It’s fun to think of those things, but one of these days it’ll be over.”

Since DiMaggio’s streak 25 players, including his own brother, have hit in 30 or more games:

Pete Rose 44
Paul Molitor 39
Jimmy Rollins 38
Luis Castillo 35
Chase Utley 35
Dom DiMaggio 34
Benito Santiago 34
Hal Morris 32
Vada Pinson 31
Willie Davis 31
Rico Carty 31
Ron LeFlore 31
Ken Landreaux 31
Vladimir Guerrero 31
Stan Musial 30
George Brett 30
Jerome Walton 30
Nomar Garciaparra 30
Sandy Alomar Jr. 30
Eric Davis 30
Luis Gonzalez 30
Albert Pujols 30
Willy Taveres 30
Moises Alou 30
Ryan Zimmerman 30

Notice that names such as Ted Williams, Wade Boggs, Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Manny Ramirez, Derek Jeter, and Tony Gwynn are not on the list. You would think Jeter, who is a prototypical contact guy in his prime, would have been able to put together a decent run. Even the enhanced Bonds couldn’t crack 30, although he was just more inclined to take a walk than hack at a pitch out of the strike zone for the sake of a hit. Ichiro Suzuki, who has average 1.4 hits per a game during his career, is the one name most experts believe could have a chance. His longest streak is 27 consecutive games (2009) so he has a lot of work to do. I think two other possibilities are Albert Pujols, who has a 30 game hitting streak to his name, and Josh Hamilton who led the American League with a .359 batting average last season. Both are arguably two of the most talented hitters in the game today.

The amazing part of DiMaggio’s streak was that it easily could have been 73 consecutive games since he hit in 16 straight after going 0-3 in Cleveland on July 17th of that season. Ironically, the ’41 streak wasn’t the first of DiMaggio’s career. He hit in 61 straight while playing in the Pacific Coast League in 1933. The professional record (major and minor league) is held by Joe Wilhoit who hit in 69 straight games playing in the Western League in 1919.

I argued a couple of weeks ago that DiMaggio’s hitting streak, although impressive, wasn’t as difficult as the home run record, triple crown, or Oscar Robertson averaging a triple double for an entire season. After further thought the level of consistency and mental focus that is required makes me believe my original position was erroneous.

To listen to my interview with Kostya Kennedy of Sports Illustrated download the replay here.

Mike Silva is a freelance writer and radio host since March of 2007. This website is his own personal "digest" of New York Baseball He's also hosts NYBD Radio on Blog Talk Radio and 1240 AM WGBB. Check out his sports media commentary at www.sportsmediawatchdog.com. Check out his official website, www.mikesilvamedia.com
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1 Response to Will DiMaggio’s Streak Ever Be Broken?

  1. Stu B

    Of local relevance is that Rose hit in consecutive games 36, 37, and 38 against the Mets at Shea. I attended the no. 37 game on 7/24/78. Rose was 0-for-3 when he came up against his former teammate Pat Zachry with one out in the seventh. Rose singled to left and then after a walk to Joe Morgan, George Foster singled Rose home to give the Reds a 3-2 lead. Zachry was taken out of the game and kicked the dugout steps, breaking his toe and ending his season.

    The Mets tied the score in their half of the seventh, but Skip Lockwood gave up another single to Rose in the ninth and Mike Lum followed with a two-run homer for the win.

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