|Dom DiMaggio on his hitting streak|
Written by Bjoern Hartig (Contact & Archive) on May 11, 2009
The Bats Blog brings us the late Dom DiMaggio's own take on how his brother ending his 34 games hitting streak:
On the day it ended, Aug. 9, we were playing the Yankees at Fenway Park. Our rivalry with the Yankees was great — every bit as emotional as it is now. The atmosphere was very thick whether we played at Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium. That afternoon we were in third place, six games behind the first-place Yankees, but playing great. We were just entering the pennant race. These were big games.
But when you feel pressure, you do not perform. The first thing you’ve got to do is be completely relaxed. And that’s the way I was. On that day against the Yankees, I felt good. I hit one solid shot to the third baseman that was turned into an out. I got out another couple of times. I was 0-for-4 when I got to the plate in the eighth inning against Vic Raschi, who was a darn good pitcher.
I smacked a line drive right up the middle so hard that it passed Raschi’s ear! He ducked to get out of the way of it! As soon as I hit it, I said, “O.K., that’s 35.” But that ball wouldn’t drop. The ball refused to drop. Joe is standing out there in center field, and he didn’t have to move. He said it himself later — if he hadn’t caught the ball, it would have hit him right between the eyes. So there was no effort on his part. It wasn’t a great play by him, like they’re still saying today. I just hit the ball too damn hard!
But the streak was over, and I didn’t mind that much. (After all, we’d won the game 6 to 3.) And hitting streaks didn’t matter to me, even when I hit in another 27 straight in 1951. It’s just a statistic.
He goes on to say that what he really cared about was hitting .300 and that his career average of .298 might have kept him out of the Hall of Fame.
And the only statistic that really matters to me is hitting .300. I did it four times in my 10 full seasons in the major leagues, and finished with a .298 average lifetime. My only regret is not hitting .300. It would have meant so much. Enos Slaughter hit exactly .300 in his career — and he’s in the Hall of Fame. Why? Did he hustle any more than I did? Did he have a better arm than I did? Did he run the bases any better than I did? Did he play defense as well as I did? Who knows? All I needed was 12 more hits — only about one per season — and I would have had a .300 average.
I looked it up and DiMaggio hit .298/.383/.419 for his career while Slaughter hit .300/.382/.453, which translates to OPS+ of 111 and 123, respectively. So while they are very close in average and OBP, Slaughter hit for more power. And probably more important, Slaughter played in 2380 games, while DiMaggio only had 1399. So I say that those 12 hits would not have made a difference regarding the Hall for Dom.