Joe DiMaggio‘s consecutive hit streak of 56 games with a hit has stood since 1941. There are many that feel the record he set is unbeatable. The number #56 one of the most iconic numbers in baseball, along with 61, 73, and 755 it has been idolized and celebrated by baseball fans for decades. The record itself is as elusive as records come. To put it into perspective, when a player reaches a 30-game hit streak, widely considered a remarkable feat, he has to consider that he is barely more than half-way to DiMaggio.
Most people would give DiMaggio all the credit for the number 56, but it was actually a little-known Cleveland third baseman that firmly solidified that number into baseball history.
The day was July 17th, 1941 at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium when DiMaggio’s streak would eventually come to an end. In the first inning DiMaggio hit a scorcher down the third base line only to be robbed by a man named Ken Keltner. Keltner had to backhand a ball down the line at third, one of the most difficult plays in the infield, then he make a strong, accurate throw get out the long, gazelle-like striding legs of DiMaggio.
Keltner made the play that easily would have been scored a hit for DiMaggio.
It can be argued that that number is just as much Keltner’s, as it is DiMaggio’s. The record is a different story, but the number ‘yes.’ ‘Joltin’ Joe would go even further, and hit for a 16-game streak after that July 17th date it ended. So? 56 + 16 + 1 …. that would make 73 both the consecutive hit record and Barry Bonds‘ single-season homerun record the same. I’m glad Keltner wouldn’t let fate make that happen.