‘Hart of the Order’
By Sean Hartnett
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71 years ago to this day, Joe DiMaggio stepped to the plate at Cleveland Stadium carrying a 56-game hitting streak.
DiMaggio’s sensational run captivated the nation during baseball’s “Golden Age.” Throughout the 1941 season, fans packed ballparks and listened closely beside their radios as DiMaggio demolished Wee Willie Keeler’s record hitting streak of 44 consecutive games.
On July 17, 1941, DiMaggio walked three times against the Indians and twice hit the ball with ferocity down the third base line. Cleveland third baseman Ken Keltner, known for his fielding prowess made two equally outstanding backhanded stops to rob DiMaggio of hitting safely in a 57th consecutive game.
Remarkably, DiMaggio began a fresh 17-game hitting streak in his next game. “Joltin’ Joe” had hit safely in an unbelievable 73 of 74 games during that stretch.
DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak is looked upon by modern day baseball fans as a mythical feat, but can it ever be equaled or broken?
Last season, Dan Uggla of the Atlanta Braves hit safely in 33 consecutive games. Philadelphia Phillies’ shortstop Jimmy Rollins maintained a 36-game hitting streak heading into the 2006 season, but was only able to extend his streak to 38 games.
Pete Rose remains the most recent player to challenge DiMaggio’s feat. Rose was struck out by Braves’ sidearmer Gene Garber in the 9th inning of an August 1, 1978 game to halt “Charlie Hustle’s” streak at 44 games.
Perhaps, the ballplayer with the greatest chance of matching DiMaggio’s record is one currently wearing Yankee pinstripes.
Last night, Robinson Cano extended his consecutive game hitting streak to 19 games. It is the longest streak by a Yankee second baseman since Joe “Flash” Gordon’s 29-game hitting streak in 1942.
For a player to come anywhere near DiMaggio’s record, he must have a consistent, effortless swing. Cano’s swing is as sweet and smooth as any player in the game. I’ve never seen Cano fall off-balance after striking out or attempt to take an over-enthusiastic violent cut that results in him swinging at air.
Cano’s greatness at the plate is a product of consistent mechanics. His power is derived from the rotation of his hips and the ball tends to explode off his bat.
If a current player has an outside chance of ever making a legitimate run at DiMaggio’s streak, it has to be Cano.
I hope you’ll join me in eagerly watching how far Cano can take his current hitting streak. You never know…
Will DiMaggio’s legendary hitting streak ever be equaled? Which current player has the best shot at matching Joe D’s immortal 56-game feat? Share your thoughts below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.