Incidental White Sox history: Joe DiMaggio’s streak

Chris Kamka
NBC Sports Chicago
On May 15, 1941, the White Sox were a part of baseball history...without even knowing it at the time.

Incidental White Sox history: Joe DiMaggio’s streak

On May 15, 1941, the White Sox were a part of baseball history...without even knowing it at the time.

Incidental White Sox history: Joe DiMaggios streak originally appeared on nbcsportschicago.com

This day in 1941, the White Sox pasted the Yankees 13-1. Quite an impressive feat, considering this Yankees team would go on to finish 101-53 and win the World Series.

Lefty Eddie Smith, plucked off waivers from the Philadelphia Athletics in 1939, went the distance scattering nine hits for the White Sox. The offensive stars for the Sox included second baseman and leadoff man Bill Knickerbocker (4 for 5, HR, 3 RBI), right fielder Taffy Wright (2 for 5, HR, 4 RBI) and left fielder Myril Hoag (4 for 5, double, RBI). Eight of the 13 White Sox runs came in the 7th inning or later.

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The lone run for the Bronx Bombers was a first inning RBI single by Joe DiMaggio. Nobody knew it then, but he wouldn't play another game without a hit until July 17. It was the beginning of a 56-game hitting streak, one of MLB's most enduring and most celebrated records. And the White Sox were part of history.

During the famous streak, DiMaggio played 12 games against the White Sox, and he had 19 hits in 45 at-bats with 7 walks and a HBP, good for a .422/.509/.689 slashline. He faced seven White Sox pitchers and collected hits off six. Only Joe Haynes managed to hold him hitless (one at-bat in relief on June 10).

DiMaggio vs White Sox pitchers during his 56-game hitting streak (May 15-July 16, 1941)

Eddie Smith: 4-for-9, 2 walks

Thornton Lee: 6-for-15, 3 walks

Johnny Rigney: 4-for-14, 2 walks

Buck Ross: 2-for-2

Ted Lyons: 2-for2

Jack Hallett: 1-for-2, HBP

Joe Haynes: 0-for-1

Overall, DiMaggio hit .408/.463/.717 with 91 hits, 15 HR, 55 RBI, 21 walks and only 5 strikeouts during his 56-game streak (it's fun to note that Ted Williams hit .412/.540/.684 with 50 walks over the same span).

Over the same span of time (May 15- July 16, 1941), the longest hitting streak by a White Sox batter was a mere 11 games, done by both Taffy Wright and Dario Lodigiani, though Luke Appling had a 12-game hit streak that included the two games prior to the May 15 game. First baseman Joe Kuhel led the White Sox with 67 hits over the course of DiMaggio's streak. Kuhel led the White Sox during the entire 1941 season with 12 home runs, three fewer than DiMaggio had during his 56-game streak alone.

By the way, the longest White Sox hitting streak of all-time is HALF of what DiMaggio did – that being Carlos Lee's 28-game streak from May 13-June 15, 2004. The next longest are 27-game streaks by Luke Appling in 1936 and Albert Belle in 1997. So DiMaggio's streak is longer than than the top two White Sox streaks combined.

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