DiMaggio's hit streak sets club mark as Yanks fall

DiMaggio's hit streak sets club mark as Yanks fall

NEW YORK, June 17, 1941 -- Joe DiMaggio's name is already in the history books. After the events of Tuesday afternoon, maybe Dan Daniel's will be, too.

The Yankees lost for the first time in their last nine games by a score of 8 to 7 to the Chicago White Sox, but the final score or New York's place in the standings were not the developments that were particularly memorable to the small crowd of 10,442 at Yankee Stadium or the baseball enthusiasts waiting eagerly for the game's results.

Joe DiMaggio's run to 56: Rewriting the record

The issue at hand was DiMaggio's growing streak of games with a hit, and Tuesday presented the feat's first close decision. When the ruling had been made on a ground ball that White Sox shortstop Luke Appling couldn't handle in enough time to get DiMaggio at first base, the Yankees outfielder had stretched his historic string to 30 games, setting a new club record.

The scene was set in the bottom of the seventh inning with the home club down, 7 to 2. DiMaggio was already tied with current Indians manager Roger Peckinpaugh (1919) and Yankees coach Earle Combs (1931) for the team-record hitting streak of 29 games, but things weren't looking promising for him climbing that final rung to rise above them.

DiMaggio had grounded out to shortstop and lined out to right field in his first two at-bats and there were no guarantees he would get another chance after this one against Chicago pitcher Johnny Rigney.

Joe DiMaggio's run to 56: Rewriting the record

He hit what looked like a routine grounder to shortstop. Appling moved to his left and was in position to field the ball, but at the last moment, it jumped up off the dirt, an unexpected tricky late hop that caused the ball to glance off Appling's shoulder.

Daniel, the World-Telegram reporter and New York chapter chairman for the Baseball Writers' Association who was serving as the game's official scorer, took his time but rendered a verdict that made the fans and DiMaggio happy: base hit.

Combs congratulated DiMaggio at first base, and suddenly the pressure was off for another day. Not only did DiMaggio stand along in Yankees lore; he also was only 11 games from tying George Sisler's 19-year-old American League record of 41 consecutive games with at least one hit, set in 1922 while with the St. Louis Browns.

The reverie and relief was short-lived, however, for the Yankees were still trailing the game and in danger of having their winning skein snapped. The scored thrice in that frame on a two-RBI single by Phil Rizzuto and run-scoring base hit by Johnny Sturm, and they tied the score at 7 to 7 in the eighth inning when Charlie Keller hit a two-run home run.

But the White Sox went ahead in the ninth on a run-scoring single by Myril Hoag off Yankees relief pitcher Johnny Murphy, and Chicago's Jack Hallett was able to preserve the win with a scoreless bottom of the ninth.

The good news for the Yankees, aside from the fact that DiMaggio's streak will live another day, was that New York's recent run of success on the diamond still leaves them only two games behind Cleveland for first place in the AL.

On May 15, 1941, Joe DiMaggio began his legendary 56-game hitting streak. In celebration of the 75th anniversary of that seemingly unbreakable record, we'll be doing a day-by-day account of the momentous feat.

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.