May 9, 2004

Who Ended The Streak?

Everybody Indians fan knows what position player is generally credited with ending Joe DiMaggio's 56 game hitting streak on July 17, 1941. But I was wrong when I guessed Ken Keltner to the question "What position player ended the DiMaggio streak?", in a trivia contest at a local watering hole the other night. An online bio of DiMaggio says of the streak:

It kept an entire nation enthralled through June and half of July, before two great plays by Cleveland third baseman Ken Keltner ended it on July 17.

Greatest games lists and "top plays" sites also say Keltner "stopped" Joe D.

July 17: In front of more than 60,000 fans at Cleveland, Joe DiMaggio's hit streak comes to an end at 56 games. Indians pitcher Al Smith and Jim Bagby, plus sensational plays by third baseman Ken Keltner, stop the amazing streak. Yankees pulled out a win though 4-3.

Actually, Keltner was just my best guess, since I was aware that, while he had made two great plays on shots by DiMaggio, I was by no means sure that either of them had been in DiMaggio's last at bat. And the correct answer would have to have been the Indian who made either the assist or the putout on Joe D's final at bat of the game.

A couple trivia teams guessed Keltner, as one would imagine, and nobody got the "right" answer, which was announced by the emcee to be Lou Boudreau. He provided no further details, which prompted me to Google for further details. And I found out that he was kinda right...and kinda wrong.

I found that Keltner and Boudreau had long shared the glory for stopping the greatest hitting streak in history, but neither man had recorded either the putout or the assist on DiMaggio's last at bat.

DiMaggio had been thwarted by the spectacular plays by Keltner in the first and the seventh innings, and had drawn a walk in the fourth. With the bases loaded in the eighth, he hit a ball sharply to short. Boudreau went to his right and fielded a bad hop, some accounts say barehanded, and started a 6-4-3 double play. (scroll to #45)

Assist on the play retiring DiMaggio - second baseman Ray Mack. Putout - first baseman Oscar Grimes. No, I'm not playing the trivia game under protest. Let's just say it's today's lesson in Tribology.

Posted by dan at May 9, 2004 4:35 PM