1941: The Greatest Season in Major League Baseball History  

saturn1019 59M
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8/24/2019 8:23 pm
1941: The Greatest Season in Major League Baseball History

the summer of, most of the world was at war. Nervous Americans watched the planet burn around them, probably realizing it was just a matter of time before they would be dragged into the conflict. But it was the most enduring of American sports institutions provided a few months of amazing entertainment relief before the inevitable happened. The baseball season unfolded was remarkable and unprecedented. A reclusive young ballplayer established the most remarkable record in all of professional sports. A brash young outfielder achieved a statistical accomplishment had been a rarity prior and hasn’t been matched since. And of the most hapless franchises in major league baseball suddenly rose up give their long suffering fans a summer of glory.

The reclusive young player was Joe DiMaggio, the center fielder for the New York Yankees. On May fifteenth , the Yankees were preparing for their th game of the season. DiMaggio was off a good start, He went into the game batting .4, having safely recording a basehit in of the 29 previous games. It wouldn’t be a particularly memorable day for either the Yankees or DiMaggio. He went 1 for 4 and his average dropped 2 points. The Yankees got hammered thirteen to one the Chicago White Sox, with DiMaggio driving in the only run for the Yankees. No realized at the time this would be the quiet beginning of the most incredible hitting streak in Major League baseball history.

May 24, it was clear DiMaggio’s bat was heating up. day, the Yankees defeated the Red Sox 7-6. DiMaggio went 1 for 4, but he drove in 2 runs for New York and recorded a basehir in his 10th consecutive game. His batting average stood at a very respectable .three eighteen. It would continue climb as the hitting streak grew longer.

The Yankees lost again on June 3 to the Detroit Tigers. Once again, DiMaggio didn’t have a particularly remarkable day at the plate, but he did get one hit in 4 plate appearances, driving in one of the 2 runs the Yankees would score in the loss. It marked the 20th consecutive game in which he managed a base and his batting average had ballooned to .3.

June th wasn’t a particularly good day for the Yankees or DiMaggio either. The team lost the White Sox 8-7 and Joltin’ Joe had one hit in 4 appearances. Now it was the th consecutive game he recorded a base hir . The nation was starting take notice of the streak. His batting average stood at .336.

On July 1, the Yankees defeated the Red Sox 7-2. DiMaggio went 2 for 4 and the streak now stood at 40 games. His average had soared to .351 and Joe was approaching the all time streaks set Wee Willie Keeler. Keeler recorded a base hit in the final game of the season, then in 44 consecutive games begin the season, establishing the longest single season streak in MLB history at 44 games and the longest streak, 45 games. DiMaggio tied the single season streak on July 6, when he went 4 for 5 in a Yankee win over the Philadelphia Athletics. He broke the single season record and tied the all time record the same day during the second game of a double header. Joe went 2 for 4 in another Yankee win. Two days later, Joe DiMaggio recorded another basehit in the MLB All Star Game. But wouldn’t count in the record books.

When the All Star break ended, DiMaggio started back up where he left off, picking up hits in 2 plate appearances against the St. Louis Browns and breaking Keeler’s all time record. His average stood at .358. On July against the Cleveland Indians, Joe DiMaggio hit safely in his 56th consecutive game. He recorded 3 hits in 4 plate appearances day, and his average climbed to .375. It all came an end the following day when DiMaggio went 0 for 3 against the Indians. “I lost thousand dollars today,” he confided to a team mate. “The Heinz 57 company has been following streak, and if I had gotten a basehit today, they would have givem me the .” The streak was over at 56. In 78 Pete Rose tied Keeler’s 44 game streak. No has come any closer to DiMaggio’s record in 78 years. It is considered the most unbreakable record in professional sports.

The day after the streak ended, DiMaggio began a new one . ended after games, but remarkably, he had hit safely in 72 of 73 games. It should come as no surprise DiMaggio also holds the second longest hitting streak in league history, at 61 games. But over the course of DiMaggio’s remarkable 56 game run, he recorded a total of 91 hits, including thirteen doubles, 7 triples and home runs.

Later in the season, Joe DiMaggio’s batting average would peak at .381. was outstanding, but well short of an even better batting performance was being assembled Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox. Williams was a cocky young outfielder, neither popular with the fans whom he didn’t particularly like, or the press he often shunned. He was charitably described as average in the field with a good arm and great speed, but his love in the game was batting. He studied the subject, crafted his own bats and his fellow outfielders complained hitting was all he cared about.

Williams obsession with hitting produced an achievement in 41 rivaled the accomplishment of DiMaggio in New York. He got off to a red hot start on the season, batting .389 in the month of April. the end of May, his average swelled to an incredible .429 and it remained at .404 at the end of June. In July, he was able push it up slightly .409 and it held at .407 the end of August. With a month left in the season, it was clear Williams had a real chance of joining a small club of men had .400 for the season, something not accomplished in the majors since Terry of the Giants batted .401 in . The great Ty Cobb had achieved the mark 3 times.

Williams slumped a bit the final week of the season and his average dipped .39955 on September 27, which rounded .400. Some fans and writers suggested Williams sit the final 2 games, a double header on the 28th. Williams would have none of it. He was not satisfied with the mathematically below .400 mark and when his manager offered let him sit, he replied if he couldn’t .400 for the entire season, he didn’t deserve it. In the double header to close the season, Williams recorded 6 hits in 8 plate appearances against the Philadelphia Athletics boosting his average .406. No has topped or even reached the .400 mark since.

The outstanding batting performance turned in Williams in 41 didn’t impact his Red Sox club the way DiMaggio’s benefited the Yankees. New York cruised the AL pennant, games ahead of the second place Red Sox. Something remarkable, however, was happening in the National League. The Brooklyn Dodgers, perennial last place dwellers for 2 decades, were in the pennant race.

In 38, the Dodgers hired a brilliant but hard drinking man the name of Lee McPhail as their general manager. McPhail employed a variety of gimmicks to boost the sagging attendance of the hapless Dodgers, hiring Babe Ruth as the team’s first base coach for the ‘38 season. It was Ruth’s only coaching job in his career. He installed lights at Ebbbets Field, permitting night games to be played there for the first time. McPhail also began stocking the team with cast offs and talented young players, guiding the team to an unusual third place finish in 39. In 40, the Dodgers’ fortunes continued to rise as the team finished second.

The 41 season brought the borrough of Brooklyn their first pennant since 20. Led a talented roster of rookie players and cast off veterans the team won 100 games and edged the St. Louis Cardinals two and a half games. set up a subway series with the powerful Yankees.

The pivotal moment of the 41 World Series came in game 4. With the Yankees up 2 games to 1, the Dodgers had a 4-3 lead in the top of the ninth with 2 outs and nobody on base. Pitcher Hugh Casey had 2 strikes on Yankee hitter Tommy Heinrich, and was one strike away from tying the series. Casey delivered the pitch for strike 3, but the ball bounced off of the Dodger catcher Mickey Owen’s mitt, permitting Heinrich safely reach first base. The Yankees rallied for 4 runs in the inning and held the Dodgers scoreless in the bottom of the ninth , winninh the game 7-4 and securing a 3 to 1 lead in the series. The Yankees won easily in game 5 and claimed the World Series championship.

Dodgers General Manager McPhail got so drunk after the loss he threatened to off all of his players to St. Louis. Angered, the Dodgers owners fired McPhail. In his place, they hired an innovative general manager from. ironically, the St. Louis Cardinals. His name was Branch Rickey. Rickey had already instituted a of creative changes in the game, including placement of numbers on player uniforms so fans could more easily identify them and he invented the farm system. He would change the game more profoundly in 46 when he hired a talented shortstop from the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues and assigned him to with the Montreal Royals, the Dodgers top farm team. A year later, Jackie Roosevelt Robinson would become the first African American player to compete in the Major League baseball in the modern era.

Two months and two days after the New York Yankees wrapped up arguably the greatest season in the history of Major League baseball, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The United States of America was finally dragged into World War II.

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