Seventy one years ago yesterday Cleveland Indians third baseman Ken Keltner twice dove to his right and made both plays, robbing Joe DiMaggio of two base hits. It halted history and ended the Yankee Clipper’s record-breaking hitting streak at 56 games.
Joe DiMaggio had 91 hits in 223 at bats for a .409 average during his streak. He hit 15 home runs and had 55 RBI.
It was 100 years ago yesterday that the Chicago White Sox came to Fenway Park and Tris Speaker was held hitless, snapping his hitting streak at 30 games.
Tris Speaker is the only player in major league history to have three separate hitting streaks of 20 or more games in the same season. He had two 20 game hitting streaks and a 30 game run in Fenway Park’s inaugural 1912 season. He also added a 22 game hit streak in 1913.
Speaker’s 30 game hitting streak in 1912 set a new standard for the Red Sox, breaking the record that first baseman Buck Freeman had held for a decade. Freeman hit in 26 consecutive games in 1902, the second year of the Boston Americans.
Buck Freeman led the American League in RBI in 1902 (121) and in home runs (13) and RBI (104) in 1903. He was one of five Boston players to get nine hits or more in the first World Series in 1903. He also holds the distinction of scoring the first Red Sox run in World Series competition, it came in the seventh inning of the first game of the Series.
The Boston Red Sox have had a total of 29 players, in their history, achieve a 20 game hitting streak and they have accomplished the feat 40 times. There have been five of them who have done it more than once with the aforementioned Speaker and Nomar Garciaparra turning the trick four times each.
Nomar had hitting streaks of 30 games in 1997, 24 games in 1998, 26 games in 2003 and 20 games in 2000. He is one of only three Red Sox players to have a hitting streak of 30 games or more. Ted Williams once said of Nomar that he was the best right-handed hitter he had seen since Joe DiMaggio.
The other Red Sox player to hit in 30 or more games straight is their record holder and he is Domenic DiMaggio. The “Little Professor” hit in 34 consecutive games in 1949, breaking the record that Tris Speaker held for 37 years.
Dominic, as my Dad used to call him, had a 22 game hitting streak in 1942 and in 1951 he hit in 27 consecutive games. The 5′ 9″ , 168 lb center fielder played 11 seasons with the Red Sox and was an All Star seven times. A .298 lifetime hitter, he is in the Red Sox all time top ten lists in the categories of: games, at bats, runs scored, hits, doubles and walks.
His streak came to an end on August 9th, in Fenway Park against the Yankees. In a bit of irony or serendipity, you choose, his last at bat came in the bottom of the eighth inning and he lined out to guess where? That’s right, centerfield, where the ball was reigned in by his brother Joe. He had flied out to Joe in his second at bat of the night as well.
The two other Red Sox to have multiple hitting streaks of 20 or more games were Wade Boggs and Fred Lynn.
Boggs had three separate hitting streaks of 20 or more games with his high of 28 games coming in 1985. He hit in 20 straight in 1986 and 25 straight in 1987. He won four consecutive American League batting titles hitting .368 in 1985, .357 in ’86’, .363 in ’87’ and .366 in 1988.
Speaker and Boggs are the only members of this elite five who are in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. When Speaker played the players wore no numbers, however; there are those who believe that Bogg’s number 26 should adorn Fenway’s sacred right field facade, but that’s another story for another day.
The final player to double dip with the 20 plus hitting streak is another center fielder, Fred Lynn. Interesting, of these five, three of them played center field.
Freddy had a pair of 20 game streaks, one in 1975 and another in 1979. Lynn played seven seasons with the Red Sox, winning a batting title in 1979. In 1975 he became the first player in baseball history to win an MVP and Rookie of the Year Award in the same season.
Fourteen times players have stretched their hitting streaks to 25 games and beyond with five of them coming since the turn of the century. Johnny Damon, has the longest of those, a 29 game streak in 2005. Manny Ramirez hit in 27 straight games in 2007 (roider) and the aforementioned Nomar had 26 in ’03’. Victor Martinez hit in 25 consecutive games in 2009 and the latest to hit the mark was Dustin Pedroia who hit in 25 straight games last season.
A few interesting things to consider; Carl Yastrzemski never had a hitting streak hit 20 games. Nor did Carlton Fisk or Joe Cronin, all numbers on the Fenway Facade. Ted’s longest was 23 games in 1943 while Jim Rice hit in 21 straight in 1980. Babe Ruth had a 20 game streak in 1919 becoming the third Red Sox player to do it. And I’ll give you a piece of trivia which will be sure to win you a beer at your favorite local watering hole. Who holds the Red Sox record for the longest hitting streak to start the season?
Eddie hit .293 in 1964, his best season, and he made the American League All Star team.
Here’s the guy! Shortstop Eddie Bressoud began the 1964 season with a 20 game hitting streak. But the record for the most still belongs to Dominic, 63 years and holding!
The Brothers DiMaggio, hitting streaks extraordinaire.
And so it is on this day in Fenway Park history, July 18, 2012.